The time is now for Carles Aleñá.
The Barcelona B star has often been described as the future of football for the Catalan club, and despite the recent three-year extension of his deal and the increase in his buyout clause to a hefty €75 million there has been little in the way of opportunity in the first team this season for him. It’s time that changed.
Aleñá is the jewel of La Masia right now. In years gone by that meant a certain first team promotion and whilst that’s still a distinct possibility for a talent such as him, the move away from building within for Barcelona has been detrimental to some of the club’s young up and comers. Alena however is one player that Barcelona must do the right thing by. His potential is too great to squander.
The additions of Philippe Coutinho, Paulinho and even Arthur are indeed tangible roadblocks to Aleñá’s hopes of a regular first team position. They are also living proof that the club’s once famous ideology of promoting within has all but become a thing of the past. So how do Barcelona ensure that such a sublime prospect is given his time to shine?
Clearly, the back end of this season is the perfect moment to do just that. With an 11-point buffer in La Liga and the possibility that the league title will be guaranteed in a matter of weeks, Ernesto Valverde needs to ensure that Aleñá is given quality minutes on the pitch.
Aleñá is thought of by many as the perfect replacement for an ageing Andrés Iniesta, and rightly so. His tactical nous, technique and flair are assuredly world class and then there’s his intelligence. Aleñá seldom makes the wrong decision, he’s quick thinking, is aware of his surroundings and he rarely loses possession of the ball. His style of play is worthy of the title of heir to Iniesta’s midfield throne.
Aleñá and ‘Don’ Iniesta might share many parallels, both are products of the La Masia system and both play with similar intent but whilst Iniesta has gone from a youth at La Masia to first team glory, Aleñá has yet to get that chance.
Now is the time to change that. Aleñá is a talent that can’t be ignored and he needs to be given the opportunity to show it. The young star in waiting might be the future of this proud club but what happens in the present is just as important. Valverde must play him.