Scout Report: Is Nicolas Tagliafico currently better than Jordi Alba?

As the January transfer window edges closer to an end, Barcelona are still working on signing a player or two. The targets have been a striker and a defender. While getting a striker looks complicated, getting a defender is possible. And Nicolas Tagliafico has interest in joining the Camp Nou outfit. The left-back is pushing for a move to Barcelona and it looks like his wish will be granted. But is he worth a trial under Xavi Hernandez? What qualities does the 29-year old have? Most importantly, can he benefit Barcelona and replace the out-of-form Jordi Alba?

Player’s Background

As an Argentine, Tagliafico notably started his playing career with Banfield in his home country. He moved to a European club the following year after making his professional debut for the club in 2011. That move to Real Murcia in Spain would not exceed a year. Tagliafico returned to his club and eventually moved to another Argentine club, Independiente. His impact at this new club would lead the team to win a major trophy in 2017. That impact wouldn’t go unnoticed as he later moved to Ajax the next year. Apart from his stints at clubs in South America and Europe, Tagliafico has had a successful time with the Argentine national team.

Can Tagliafico do better than Alba?

Tagliafico entered the limelight at a period when Ajax surprised many in the 2018/2019 Champions League campaign. The left-back has impeccable stamina and a venturous style of play. He is still one of the best left-backs in the game. There are some ways in which Barcelona will need his . Simultaneously, there are some situations that make his signing a type that is surrounded by doubts.

Full-back have a lot of responsibilities at Barcelona. They also need to be fast and very active in defence. That is why Alba has maintained his role in the team for many years. In Tagliafico’s case, he would definitely fit well at Barcelona in terms of his defensive contributions. He has huge success in defensive duels. This will be helpful for a team like Barcelona, who keep having defensive headaches. Tagliafico’s ability to counterpress also makes it easier for him to make ball recoveries. This will be very crucial for Xavi. The manager’s intent is to not see the ball at the opponents’ feet for long.

However, there are a few ways in which Tagliafico doesn’t measure up to Alba. These come particularly in attack. The Argentine defender is not that great at delivering crucial forward passes. He also comes short on crosses delivered into the box every 90 minutes. These are important requirements for a full-back at Barcelona. It is uncertain if Tagliafico can meet these requirements at the Spanish club.

Bad Form

The major worrying situation regarding Nicolas Tagliafico is how his form has dipped, especially this season. He has lost his place in Erik Ten Hag’s starting lineup. Moreover, playing just 309 minutes in the league this season means Tagliafico is now a shadow of himself. There will definitely be skepticism if he arrives. Alba is still better than he is at this point. The Argentine is not the type of player Barcelona really need.  

Bottom line

Due to the need for defensive reinforcement, getting Nicolas Tagliafico on loan until the end of the season looks like a good idea. The loan move would give Barcelona the chance to scrutinize him. If he can fit into Xavi’s plans, then he can have a long-term future at the club. But, as it stands, Tagliafico would need to do a lot to fit in at Barcelona.

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