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Barcelona 2017-18 Season Grades: Fullbacks

Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Nélson Semedo, and the rest

Barcelona v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Jordi Alba

Alba’s season may get slightly underrated because he kind of cooled off, but he was really instrumental in the team. His 8 assists in the league put him only behind Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez. With Neymar gone, he seemed to be unleashed and willing to drive forward more as he was given more freedom to roam. Like all other Barça players, his season has a black spot on it in the form of the AS Roma loss. But it’d be unfair to focus on that game, where he wasn’t the main culprit anyway. He gad a great season.

Grade: A-

Sergi Roberto

For the second season running, Roberto was the primary right-back, a position he himself does not consider his best. Converted from a midfielder, Roberto lacks the pure pace associated with the best fullbacks. He’s also no the world’s best one-on-one defender. But what he does have is a lot of skill on the ball for a fullback. His dribbles are good, and he has a nose for an assist - fourth on the team in that column, behind Alba. Roberto also had a bad habit of picking up red cards in big games, usually for being reckless. Once again, there’s a lot to like in his game but it’s also plainly obvious he is not world class as a fullback. The question now is whether he will ever return to midfield, or if he will carve out a niche as a solid, unconventional fullback.

Grade: B

Nélson Semedo

Semedo’s season was interrupted by injury, which ultimately kept him from establishing himself fully as the team’s primary right-back. His explosiveness was a breath of fresh air compared to Roberto’s more methodical style, and expectations are being set pretty highly. On the other hand, he still can make mistakes that a seasoned Barça starter would not usually commit. Once again, the AS Roma match stands as a significant blemish on his report card. It’s also notable he did not get a single assist, compared to Roberto and Alba leading the way for the whole team. Overall, it was a promising campaign, but next season is going to be crucial.

Grade: B

Lucas Digne

Digne put in another season in which he was quite solid but also quite unspectacular. Compared to Alba, Digne lacks the dynamism that makes him such a threat on the flank. He is a good defender and a capable centerback in an emergency. He won’t wow people but he’ll do OK. The question is if Barcelona feel that’s good enough, even for a backup, or if they need to start prepping Alba’s successor.

Grade: B-

Note: Grades are based on how the player did compared to what was expected. They are not absolute values, but relative ones.

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