La Masia Player to watch : Alejandro Balde

Alejandro Balde

After recent reports about Firpo leaving in January, one player who could benefit is Alejandro Balde, as he could get the promotion to the first team. Especially if Barcelona will not buy a cheap alternative for Firpo. 17-year-old left-back playing regularly at Barcelona B soon could announce himself to the footballing world very soon.

Early life

Alejandro Balde Martínez was born on 18 October 2003 in Barcelona. His parents of Guinean and Dominican descent wanted Balde to become an athlete at a very young age. His love for football started, by watching his older brother Edy play for Plaça dels Porxus, who was 7 years old at the time. One day Edy’s coach asked a four-year-old Alejandro to play with them when they were missing one player.

During that match, everyone realised, that he has incredible football talent. He started playing football at Sant Gabriel school before moving on to Prebenjamin while playing as a forward and scoring multiple goals. At the age of 6, he got numerous offers. But eventually, Alejandro wanted to join Barcelona, however, the club was taking too long to make their decision and eventually Balde joined Espanyol. At Espanyol, he played as a forward and showed his talent and developed his football even further until he joined La Masia.

Time at La Masia

In 2011 Alejandro Balde joined La Masia only at the age of eight. While being at La Masia he has won multiple leagues under different youth rankings from Benjamin to Juvenil A. As well as doing this by being a year younger than his teammates. In 2018 he got the promotion to Cadet A, where he at mid-season got the promotion to Juvenil B while being only 15 years of age. In 2019 there was danger of Alejandro Balde leaving La Masia after some interest from premier league clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea.

Unfortunately, Balde’s performances dropped after some poor performances for the team as it looked like the rumours affected him. Luckily for Barcelona, eventually he signed a contract extension, which will keep him at the club until 2022. The same year he was promoted to Juvenil A only at the age of 16 being one of the youngest players in the squad. At Juvenil A he became regular under Fran Artiga playing as left-back and sometimes as a left-winger. Balde registered 4 assists for Juvenil A during the season averaging an assist almost every 250 minutes.

In 2020/2021 he received the registration to be able to play for Barcelona B, also being able to appear for Juvenil A to continue his development. Meanwhile, at Barcelona B, he already has played 4 matches this season with three of them as a starter. Despite not being able to register an assist he has shown glimpses of potential and what he can offer to Barcelona very soon. Alejandro is also a regular at Spain’s youth national team regularly appearing for U16, U17 and U18 teams during his career.

Playing Style

Alejandro is a left-footed left-back, who can also play as a left-winger as he did during his time at La Masia. Started as a forward and eventually changed his position into attacking left-back. His speed and acceleration are exceptional and one of his biggest strengths both in attack and defence.

Balde is a natural attacking fullback with tremendous dribbling, as well as being skilful on the ball. His overlapping runs into the box one of his best attributes, especially with some space around him. Alejandro Balde is exceptional on the ball and likes to combine with a winger, to create space for his teammates. Also, very unpredictable in his attacking aspects of the game, he can comfortably dribble into the box, or look for a cross, when necessary.

Balde uses his blistering pace to help out in defence, to stop oppositions counter-attack. Alejandro developed in the La Masia, his pass accuracy is outstanding, despite in the moment of sprints he can easily find a teammate in the box and single him out with a through ball or a simple pass. Despite his enormous contributions in the attack, his defensive input needs work.

Meanwhile, this season under Garcia Pimienta he improved this aspect of his game and looks more mature and better in 1v1 situations than before. Alejandro is an attacking fullback with blistering speed, dribbling skills outstanding overlapping runs into the box. His playing style reminds me a little of Alphonso Davies.

What does the future hold for Alejandro?

As per reliable reports Ronald Koeman likes Alejandro a lot and he could get the promotion if Firpo leaves. However, I’m expecting the youngster to play out a full season with Barcelona B. He is very talented player. But still needs to improve some of his aspects as left-back to be able to fight Jordi Alba for a starting position. Alejandro massively matured at Barca B this season already improving his game. In March Balde will also appear in the UEFA Youth League, playing as the main LB for the team.

In near future hopefully we will see him in the first team. It’s better to let Balde play day in and day out with Barcelona B. It would be better than staying on the bench with the first team. In the same way Miranda suffered without game time after Digne left in the summer.

Potential: 9/10 – Has potential to become a key player at the top clubs.

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