21-year-old Carles Alena finds himself in the middle of nowhere. Seemingly out of Ernesto Valverde’s plans this season, the youngster hasn’t played for Barcelona B too. For any player of his age, it isn’t too promising a situation.
This season, the Spaniard hasn’t featured after the club’s opening day defeat to Athletic Bilbao. Alena played 45 minutes of that clash but that is just about it. He hasn’t played more than that and has been on the bench just four times in all competitions.
This is in stark contrast to last season, when Alena was seen as one of Barca’s best young talents. He had played 17 times in the La Liga, scoring twice too and seven times in the club’s march to the final of the Copa del Rey. Those were really promising times indeed.
This season’s situation has rung some alarm bells. Calciomercato have recently reported that Tottenham and AC Milan are looking to sign him on a loan deal. The report also states that Barca could be willing to let the player move on a temporary deal, but won’t let him go permanently.
Mundo Deportivo have backed these claims, but they say that Tottenham could be willing to make a permanent move. They state that Alena’s release clause stands at €75 million and Spurs could meet that, if Barca do seem keen on selling him.
Milan, the other club linked, recently played a side with an average age of 23.6 under former boss Marco Giampaolo and four of the five sides with the lowest average ages this season in the Serie A are Milan sides. It just shows how the club is keen on moving forward with young players.
Their recruitment policy follows that pattern. The club signed Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic, Rafael Leao, Leo Duarte and Theo Hernandez. All of them are Under-25 players. Ante Rebic, the only over-25 player they signed, hasn’t made a single start this season in Serie A.
Tottenham are known to be a club which places a big amount of faith in young players. Mauricio Pochettino plays a role in that. The manner in which he has turned players like Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli into household names is proof enough.
Pochettino has earned a name for himself when it comes to giving opportunities to youth. A player like Alena needs so much of that.
At Barcelona, the arrival of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax hasn’t helped things. The Dutchman has become one of the best midfielders in the world, despite his tender age and unfortunately for their La Masia prodigy, a developing player like Alena is bound to suffer from that. Perhaps, that is a big reason why he has played just 45 minutes of the whole season.
Ernesto Valverde’s 4-3-3 shape has hardly had a place for him. De Jong has played either as the deepest midfielder or slightly further forward. Sergio Busquets is playing in his anchor role. Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic play in the other two positions.
Considering how Barca’s approach has been in transfers, it hardly seems as though they won’t sign a star name. But when it comes to Alena, he needs regular football and currently, he’s pretty far from that.
He should get a loan deal to either of Tottenham or Milan, if they do come forward. Especially Spurs, who will get him some Champions League experience.
If he plays well for them, Barca would take certain notice. Not just them, Spurs too will sit up and look at him, as will the world.