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Barcelona’s board was surprised that Alba started over Balde against Rayo



Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Barcelona began their 2022/23 La Liga season with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano this past Saturday at Spotify Camp Nou.

Coming into the game with a lot of expectations after the successful registration of all but one of their new signings, Barça failed to deliver, coming away with just a solitary point.

There were a lot of players who did perform up to the mark – Ronald Araujo looked out of place at right-back, Gavi was not at his best in midfield, and the front three of Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha underwhelmed.

Another player who failed to show up on the night was left-back Jordi Alba. The 33-year-old veteran has been one of Barça’s most reliable players over the years and was selected for the season opener ahead of youngster Alejandro Balde.

This decision, as reported by Gerard Romero, left several club officials confused and surprised as the teenager had shone brightly in the pre-season. Indeed, the 18-year-old had been one of Barcelona’s most impressive performers in the friendlies leading up to the new season.

However, Xavi opted to go ahead with the experience of Alba over the youthful exuberance of Balde in the season opener. But, as it turned out, the veteran Spaniard failed to deliver on the night for the Blaugrana.

Despite the underwhelming start to the new season, Alba will remain the undisputed first-choice left-back at the club.

And, as for Balde, the La Masia graduate looks primed to leave the Catalans on loan as Marcos Alonso is expected to arrive at the club, which would push him further down the pecking order under Xavi.

The teenager has demonstrated great potential and a loan move could benefit him as he would stand to gain valuable experience by playing regularly elsewhere rather than warming the bench at Barcelona.

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