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What’s going on with Carles Alena at Barcelona?

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The midfielder has struggled for game time

FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

When Carles Alena was named in Barcelona’s first starting XI of the 2019-20 season he could have been forgiven for thinking this was going to be the campaign where he finally made a real impact at the Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde started the 21-year-old in midfield alongside new signing Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto at San Mames but that is the only real positive for the midfielder so far this season.

Alena was hooked at half-time, Barca went on lose the game 1-0 and those 45 minutes remain the only minutes the youngster has seen this season. It’s actually worse than that though, Alena has barely even been able to make Valverde’s 23-man squad list since.

SOCCER: SEP 28 La Liga - FC Barcelona at Getafe CF Photo by Carlos Sanchez Martinez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The decision to drop Alena has made an impact on the youngster too, and not in a good way. He made it pretty clear how disappointed he was to be axed after the defeat to Athletic while away with the Spain Under-21s on international duty in September.

”No player likes being left out of the squad. It’s a decision taken by the coach. Of course it affects the player,” he said.

”I think I have a chance of fighting for a spot in the line-up. I think everyone who is in the squad will be used. I 100 percent believe I can turn the situation around. I am determined to succeed at Barcelona.”

Source | RAC1

Strong words from Alena and, from the looks of it, he will need to be strong this season. Valverde has offered nothing in the way of explanation about Alena’s inability to even get on the bench. His stock answer in press conferences about his midfielders is that he is aware he has too many in his squad and can’t pick them all.

Of course that is true and Alena is not the only Barca midfielder twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines. Ivan Rakitic only has one start to his name, Arturo Vidal’s first start only came against Sevilla at the weekend, while even Sergio Busquets has found himself out of the team on occasion.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

New signing Frenkie de Jong and Arthur have cemented their positions as undisputed starters in the early weeks, while it looks like the other spot belongs to Busquets, Vidal or even Sergi Roberto, who has started seven of Barca’s eight games this season (a couple at full-back admittedly).

All of which suggests that Alena and Rakitic find themselves very much surplus to requirements currently and may be thinking about their futures at Barcelona as the January transfer window approaches.

It would be little surprise to see Barca cash in on Rakitic, but Alena may also be thinking it is time to secure a loan move in a bid to actually play some football and prevent his career stalling.

He may also be looking at how Barca’s other loan stars are getting on. Marc Cucurella has played every match for Getafe, Coutinho seems to be enjoying life at Bayern Munich, while Oriol Busquets has made five appearances for FC Twente.

Rumors at the start of the season suggested Alena was close to a loan move to Betis over the summer that was blocked by Valverde. You suspect if another offer were to arrive in January there would be no such veto from the Barca boss, and Alena may just jump at the chance.