Rarely do you see a team line up with three recognized left-backs, but FC Barcelona did it again in a 2-1 win over Osasuna. Jordi Alba was on the left, Marcos Alonso was in the middle, and Alex Balde played on the right.
It’s a product of a lack of fit centerbacks and a lack of great options at right-back that has seen Xavi lean on his left-backs. Frequently, a team carries only two in the squad - never mind on the pitch at the same time.
Balde could be considered the team’s best left-back, though his veteran teammates might have something to say about that. But at the moment, Balde is probably the team’s best right-back. Héctor Bellerín and Sergi Roberto can do all right, but they’re far from top quality these days.
The future of Barcelona is with Balde on the left. Alonso might stick around as a backup; Alba is likely to retire or move on soon.
It’s rumored that the Catalans see a right-back as a priority in the transfer market. Bellerín and/or Roberto might continue as backups, but that’s all.
For this season, it’s totally plausible that Balde will continue starting on the right, with Alba or Alonso on the left.
Another possibility exists, which is shifting a centerback to the right. Jules Koundé and Ronald Araújo, when properly fit, can play on the right, allowing Balde back onto his favored left.
Balde is left-footed but he has a good weak foot, letting him perform on either side. He has better attacking instincts than a converted centerback. He’s certainly faster than Roberto. And his performances are above Bellerín’s.
It’s not for the long-term, but for now, Balde can become the starting right-back.