After having finally completed his recovery from a serious injury, we analyse the profile, style of play and potential of La Masía promising midfielder Jorge Alastuey.
La Masía can’t stop producing excellent midfielders, with each of them being different and with its own personal touch of originality. While comparisons are often drawn between rising stars and established legends, no two players are alike. Even if, having all developed at the same academy, they do share some attributes regarding tactical awareness, intelligence, technical ability and more, the slight differences between each other make them all distinct. Midfield talent Jorge Alastuey, despite possessing all the conditions required to succeed at Barcelona, still is a unique prospect.
Born on 14 May 2003 in Cuarte de Huerva, Zaragoza, Jorge Alastuey began playing football at AD Stadium Casablanca at only 3 years of age. With his silky touches with his left foot, the kid captivated the attention of all those watching him. Including Real Zaragoza, the city’s big and historical club. He joined them after 7 years at Stadium Casablanca, and with Zaragoza he further demonstrated all the quality he had in his boots. Spanish giants Barcelona and Madrid started monitoring him, but it wasn’t until a tournament in Argentona as an Infantil that the blaugranas decided to make an offer for him. Jorge, who was a culé since he was a child, did not hesitate to accept Barça’s proposal. So, aged 13, he was added to La Masía’s Infantil A.
But then, what should have been the youngster’s best and happiest summer transformed into the worst of them all. He and his brother Nacho lost their mother to a complicated illness, and those were tough moments for the young Jorge. Separated from his family as he moved to La Masía in the Catalan capital, and with the death of his mother, the Jorge Alastuey had to show an immense maturity and strength to keep moving forward. With an admirable personality, the then-13-year-old incredibly managed to overcome that difficult situation.
Jorge, renewing his contract with Barcelona in the summer of 2019 | Photo by FC Barcelona
Since he arrived to the academy, his rise has been meteoric. While being somewhat shy, he soon became one of the captains of the Cadete B after a year at Barcelona. Then, last campaign, he was named the captain of the Cadete A. His values, leadership and modesty make him an exemplary teammate. Sadly, he suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear during the 18/19 term, which ruled him out for the remainder of that course and the first half of the 19/20. During that period, though, he turned 16 and was ready to sign his first professional contract. So Barcelona, in spite of being injured, renewed his contract for three more seasons in the summer of 2019 and promoted him to the Juvenil B.
After a long recovery process, Jorge finally made his return on 9 February 2020. A truly deserved reward after yet another setback for him. But adversity will never bring Alastuey down, but rather make him stronger. Furthermore, apart from his positive attitude, what makes him a safer bet for his future as a footballer is that he is a very humble and level-headed guy. His academic record is excellent too, making him a commendable person and player.
A member of an excellent 2003 generation that includes superb midfielders like Txus Alba, Marc Doménech, Marc Casadó or Arnau Solà, even with the exit of Xavi Simons in 2019, Jorge Alastuey stands out as one of, if not the, brightest of them all. His delicious left-foot is like a painter’s brush, which he uses to delicately colour the game with his artistry. His technical ability is magnificent, with a very elegant touch and control to handle and carry the ball with class and magnificence.
Jorge, while a natural attacking midfielder, will most likely slowly evolve into an interior or number 8, with his capacity to dictate play and, above everything, his intelligence. Creative and agile – physically and mostly mentally –, he has a splendid decision making and talent to dominate from midfield. With his peripheral vision and passing range, he can deliver a line-breaking assist with ease.
Jorge Alastuey has a golden left foot to pass, carry the ball and create | Photo by FC Barcelona
By contrast, scoring goals is by no means his main virtue. While he can unleash accurate strikes from long range or make arrivals into the box, he is more suited to playmaking and distributing than getting on the scoresheet. Vision, creativity, imagination, positional awareness and intelligence define an exceptional talent and leader on and off the pitch.
What does the future hold for Jorge Alastuey?
Jorge Alastuey undoubtedly is one of the most promising midfielders at La Masía. And that’s no small thing considering the endless list of gems in that position. But he deserves one of the top spots, as he certainly has the technical, tactical and cognitive abilities, and, perhaps even more importantly, the humility, work ethic and attitude to reach the elite. Maybe he needs the luck in terms of physique and fitness which he has not enjoyed in recent months, and to make the full transition into an interior. Yet the 16-year-old is expected to successfully adapt to any spot due to his intellectual capacity.
If he gets promoted to the Juvenil A, which 2004-born Pablo Páez Gavi is expected to do, then they could form a mouth-watering combination as two of the most exciting midfield maestros in the academy at present. While in the past years he has seen how other top prospects have left the club, Jorge has rejected offers from England and France as he has a strong desire to make history at the Camp Nou. Despite the many stumbling blocks in his path, Alastuey certainly is on the right track.
Barcelona B: Changes which we can expect this season
For Barcelona, its youth setup – Barcelona B, and the famed La Masia – has often served as one of its core components, and not a subsidiary, like a lot of clubs around Europe. It has often been the first step for players before they join the first team, learning the ways and about the heritage of the club.
Currently, a part of the Segunda B, Barcelona B were in the Segunda not more than two years ago and failed to gain promotion last season after coming oh-so-close. As another season starts, Barcelona B must balance their success on the pitch and the development of youth players simultaneously. Barca Universal takes a look at the changes we can expect from them this season.
Barcelona B must, without compromise, involve new players from the youth teams every season as much as possible. This is best showcased by Garcia Pimienta, who uses the youth teams to bolster his squad. Similarly, there are some specific players we can expect to see this season.
Against Cornella, Cadete A player Ilias Akhomach debuted for Barca B and played an entire half. At just 16 years of age, he probably won’t get a lot of chances, but if he does, we can count on him to repay the manager. The winger who has grown meteorically through the youth ranks of the Catalan club in rapid succession looked comfortable playing against much older players in the Segunda. He’s someone who could make an impact this season.
At left-back, Barcelona has a player who has progressed immensely. Alejandro Balde has played above his age group for a long time, and his development has been incredible. At 17, he is a starter for the B team and is among the players who can definitely contest for the first-team in the future. Balde is good both defensively and offensively – his pace, dribbling combined with his tracking-tackling skills makes him a capable asset down the wing.
Apart from these two, we might see attacking midfielder Brian Pena and defensive midfielder Alex Rico. Towards the end of the season, Diego Almeida, Txus Alba, Gavi might be given their debuts as well as part of an up-and-coming generation coming through.
This is a change seen in subsidiary teams such as the B team usually when there is an adjustment in the tactics for the first team. Since the team has a new manager in Ronald Koeman, the tactics are rather fresh as well. Under Setien, a 4-3-3 formation was the preferred choice, whereas under Koeman it is a 4-2-3-1. Though Barcelona played a 4-4-2 under Valverde, the B team continued in a 4-3-3. The shift to a 4-2-3-1, however, is quite less, compared to a 4-4-2.
Koeman has brought with him a plethora of changes, the major one being the team setup. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)
The second team’s sole purpose is to facilitate for the first team, which remains the priority this season as well. It just so happens that the Spaniard has three remarkable players at his disposal who can play in a double-pivot and can soon step-up to the first team – Nico Gonzalez, Jandro Orellana and Oriol Busquets. Implementing a double pivot with these players would also benefit the rest of the players. Matheus Fernandes or Alex Collado could play in the number 10 role where they can excel. Additionally, there is an interesting option in the form of Brian Pena whose style resembles Philippe Coutinho’s, could get to feature for the B team in the mediapunta role. In turn, Hiroki Abe, Ilias Akhomach, Nils Moreno, among others could play feature on the wing.
Formation changes for Barcelona B would not only help the players transition from the B team to the first team but will also improve their tactical flexibility. One of the biggest advantages of playing in a 4-2-3-1, however, leads us to our next change.
Barcelona have produced many incredible number 9s in history as well as recently. However, there has been something about the 4-3-3 system which hasn’t suited these talents – for example, Abel Ruiz. An undisputed starter for Spain’s youth sides, he was benched by Alejandro Marquez in some instances owing to his failure to rack up goals for the B team.
Abel Ruiz failed to live up to his own prophecy. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
A very promising striker coming through is Gerard Fernandez, or Peque, as he is called. Playing a 4-2-3-1 system would bring out the best in him. As a forward who is incredible at pressing the defence, he would get that freedom in a 4-2-3-1. Another one of his strong attributes is his ability to link-up very well with his teammates. With a no. 10 behind him and a winger on either side, he would get the opportunity to further develop his anchor play.
The problem Barca B have had with the number 9 role is one that could make the difference between reaching the playoffs like last season and earning promotion to the Segunda A.
Barcelona B are a very dynamic team. There are always multiple changes in multiple positions due to the nature of the team. A manager focused on developing youth, Garcia Pimienta has made sure they are a very capable collective as well. With the changes we examined in this article, Barcelona B could top last season’s playoffs and finally get promotion to the Segunda A. And if not that, we can be sure that they will continue to roll out incredible players that will become Barcelona stars one day.