Jordi Alba is playing an incredible season. The 29-year-old has 14 assists so far this season, plus two goals to boot. In fact, Alba has already gone past his career high in assists (11, in the previous season), and it’s just early February!
What’s more, Barcelona have won only two of the eight games Alba has not started - both against lower league opposition in the cup.
When Alba has been on the bench, Valverde has brought him on to chase the game nearly every time the scenario has arisen.
In the UEFA Champions League, Alba sat on the bench as Barça had a 1-0 lead in a game against Tottenham Hotspur that had no meaning for them. Valverde preferred to keep him off the pitch, and the Catalans conceded an equalizer. The match ended 1-1.
In the league, Leganés beat Barcelona 2-1 as Alba sat on the bench. Valverde brought him on for Thomas Vermaelen, who was deputizing for Alba, but they could not improve the result.
Against Valencia, Alba was brought on for Nélson Semedo around halftime with Barcelona down 2-1. Lionel Messi scored the equalizer, and the match finished 2-2.
Alba was not in the squad as Barcelona beat Cultural Leonesa home and away in the Copa del Rey, but that was against a team who play in the third tier of Spanish football.
He wasn’t called up as Barça lost 2-1 to Levante in the next round, and once again started on the bench as Barça lost 2-0 in the cup against Sevilla. He was brought on for the last ten minutes.
Finally, Alba missed Barcelona’s 0-0 draw with Athletic Bilbao this past weekend, as he was serving a one-match banned for yellow card accumulation.
Barcelona do not have a clear substitute for Alba, having used Juan Miranda from the B team in his place, as well as Thomas Vermaelen, Sergi Roberto, and Nélson Semedo moving in from a different position to cover for him.
Perhaps more concerning: the team has yet to agree to a contract renewal with the left-back. Signing a left-back to eventually take over from Alba has become a priority for the club in the next transfer window, according to rumors.