Talent, dedication and patience. These three words combined together are the golden recipe for succeeding at FC Barcelona and 21-year-old Carles Aleña seems to have it all. Since Sergi Roberto’s breakthrough to the first team, no player from the club’s youth academy has been able to work up the ladder and achieve the feat of playing at the highest level alongside Lionel Messi and Co. This decline of promoting homegrown talent through the ranks of the club has translated into serious drama for the Blaugranas. For several years now, Barcelona have been the target of critiques surrounding the fact that the Catalans are more open to signing foreign players rather than concentrating their focus on talent they have right up their ally: La Masia, Barcelona’s famous youth academy.
However, at the end of 2018, things took a turn, when Carles Alena was finally promoted to the first team. On December 4, 2018, the permanent promotion of the wonderkid from Garcia Pimienta’s side to the first team was made official. The recipe to his success: Talent, dedication and patience.
The Masia graduate embodies the club’s philosophy and just like the former captains Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, the midfielder carries the true definition of Barca DNA. There was never a doubt about his talent and his two feet that were born to play the authentic tiki-taka style. But talent is never enough for a club as big as Barcelona. Players need to be driven and have their eyes set on their prey, in this case, the promotion to the first team. And Aleña had just that.
The youngster has been with the club since he was seven years old, successfully passing through all the ranks. Aleña eventually joined the Barca B squad in 2015. His talent was beyond his years and to no surprise he began to make appearances with the first team just a year later. After a handful of La Liga and Copa del Rey features and years of hard work, sweat and dedication to get the top, his time finally arrived and the wonderkid is making the most of it.
Under Barca boss Ernesto Valverde, Aleña has been brilliant to say the least, showcasing he deserves to be on the pitch and play elite football. The midfielder is a pure Barca player, who perfectly understands what foreign players struggle with when first arriving to the club. Aleña, just like any other La Masia product, has been trained to understand how the team operates, when to make runs, when to make passes and pinpoint exactly where to do it. With that unique football style imprinted in his game, packed with the creative juice flowing through his body, he is a no brainer to have in Barca’s starting eleven. But as important as talent and dedication is to succeed at Camp Nou, patience is equally as important.
The Mataro-born player has been called up to feature in 17 matches in all competitions this season, but only got the nod to start from the get-go in eight of those games. Yet, despite Valverde’s hesitancy to use the player, Aleña is showing no signs of frustration, simply training harder day in and day out. And the key in this particular phase is patience, a quality Aleña surely possesses.
With the likes of Arthur Melo, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic as competitors in the centre of the field, the 21-year-old is well aware he needs to stay calm and leave everything on the pitch whenever he is given the precious chance to play. Against Villareal, he netted his first goal to ensure a Blaugrana victory and then went on to showcase a stunning display against Valencia which had the press talking about his undeniable talent. It will be sooner rather than later when the Masia product will turn into an integral part of Barca’s starting XI. Aleña just needs to continue on this road of patience.