The 2022-23 season has indeed been the end of an era for Barcelona. First Gerard Piqué, then Sergio Busquets, and now Jordi Alba. Three legends, and, undoubtedly — if football had one of those — three Hall of Famers. All of them gone.
Piqué was loud. Busquets was a quiet poet. Alba, for over a decade, has been the picture of unselfishness. The best left-back in club history knew exactly what his job was, and did it to near perfection, even if he rarely got the credit for it.
His relationship with Lionel Messi defied logic. It was that rare type of sports chemistry that only people who coexist on a telepathic level can understand.
You’ve seen a million times: Messi has the ball on the right wing, and looks up as Alba begins to make a run in behind the defense; Leo plays a perfect pass over the top, and Alba immediately looks to the GOAT to see where and when he’ll arrive in the box so Jordi can put in the perfect cross for yet another Lionel Messi goal.
Camp Nou celebrates. “Messi, Messi, Messi!” echoes through the night in the Catalan capital. Commentators speak of Leo’s greatness, and writers rush to their laptops to add another Messi goal to their match reports. Jordi Alba’s assist is nothing but an asterisk, a statistic, nothing more than a full-back doing his job so the forward could get all the glory.
And the best part about it is: Jordi Alba was perfectly fine with never taking the credit. He was an unselfish superstar, who always celebrated his teammates while they celebrated with him. Because they knew, even if we have failed to acknowledge it. Over and over again.
When Barça entered one of its darkest periods, Jordi Alba became a punching bag. It was easy to criticize him for being a “bad defender” when literally nobody else was defending well. It was easy to make fun of him for crying in dressing rooms during painful losses when he was one of the very few to actually care about losing at such a deep level that it hurt his soul.
He didn’t care about the outside noise, because all he cared about was winning — and making his teammates better. So he stuck with it, took multiple paycuts, and accepted whatever role was asked of him. His final season was one spent mostly on the bench, but once again his unselfishness shone: he was a leader, a mentor to Alejandro Balde, and decided to give up his salary for next season to help the club’s finances in a future without him.
Oh, and he also played really damn well and scored a couple of huge goals in the La Liga title race. Just like Sergio Busquets, he’s proven he’s still got it and he leaves on a high.
Thank you, Jordi. We haven’t said it enough, but we really do appreciate everything you’ve done.