Jordi Alba has arrived.
The Barcelona left-back has stepped his game up a notch this season and the results are plain to see.
With the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and the injury to French international Ousmane Dembele, the left wing of Barcelona’s attack has become rich pickings for the 28-year-old Spaniard this year.
After arriving at Camp Nou in 2012, Alba has been a solid, if unspectacular player for the club but it’s only now that we are seeing him flourish in what is a new-found role for the Blaugrana.
His combination with Leo Messi this season has played a major role in the success of the team and Ernesto Valverde was full of praise when he discussed the combination between the two in an interview following Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Villarreal.
"Jordi Alba-Messi connections are life insurance for the team," said Valverde.
"It's one of our weapons and we use it very well. They understand each other well in attack and the arrival of Jordi Alba is so unexpected by the rival that it helps us a lot."
Source | ESPN
It’s this recent freedom to press forward in attack that has rival defenders surprised and Alba’s pace and accurate passing has produced five goal assists this season-the most of any Barca player- with four being scored by Lionel Messi.
It was only last month that Alba admitted he feels he’s found his confidence again with the departure of Neymar and subsequent freedom on the left flank.
"I've recovered my confidence,” said Alba.
“Now I have the whole flank and that's brilliant for me. I feel comfortable, I have a lot of energy and that's being shown on the pitch."
Source | Sport
The emergence of Alba as a legitimate attacking threat and his combination with Messi has many comparing him to former Brazilian right-back Dani Alves and whilst the comparison might well be a premature one, there’s plenty of parallels between the way both have combined with the Argentine.
Messi is obviously confident in Alba’s ability in much the same way he was with Alves. You only have to watch the way in which the Argentine positions himself when Alba is on the attack to see it.
It’s true that Neymar’s departure from the Camp Nou played a large role in Alba’s success. New coach Ernesto Valverde has shown more confidence in him than his predecessor Luis Enrique ever did, and the introduction of a 4-4-2 formation this year has given Alba even more freedom to push forward and attack.
It’s undeniable that the resurgent career of Jordi Alba has contributed to Barcelona’s current success this season, and his good form will continue to be a requisite for future achievements for the Catalan club. His time to shine has arrived.