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La Masia defensive starlet fighting to win Xavi’s trust in pre-season – report

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Photo courtesy: FC Barcelona official website

Alejandro Balde was one of the first players to return to training at Ciutat Esportiva after the break. After the horrific injury, he suffered last season, his in-time return came as a reason to celebrate in Catalonia.

However, Xavi Hernandez wishes to be cautious with Balde’s return. He is in no rush to push the defender back on the field and is said to be willing to wait until August to do so.

The La Masia star has been called up for pre-season in the United States but is largely training on his own to recuperate from his setback. Meanwhile, the manager has called up young Alex Valle as a replacement.

According to Jaume Marcet on SPORT, Valle is fighting to gain Xavi’s trust as an alternative to Balde. He offers a unique profile compared to his counterpart and presents an interesting option to the manager.

The Badalona-born defender is more of an inverted left-back by trade whereas Balde is predominantly a wide full-back. If Xavi’s experiment with Valle works out, the manager could have some interesting tactical ideas and variations heading into the new season.

Marcos Alonso is expected to feature as the primary left-back in the upcoming games. However, the newly called-up La Masia starlet could have a fair share of minutes if he continues to impress in training.

As it stands, Balde will be the manager’s most trusted resource at left-back when the season begins in mid-August. The Spanish international made 33 La Liga appearances last season, scoring one goal and providing six assists in the process while also overseeing 14 clean sheets.

It is thus safe to say that it will be Alonso who will be forced to make way if Valle makes a strong case for promotion. Yet, it cannot be a problem for the manager to have two academy stars pushing for a starting spot in the same position.

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