Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players’ series. Today, we take a look at Jordi Alba.
The Spaniard came through the famous ‘La Masia‘ youth academy at Barcelona but left the club at the age of 16 after being deemed too small. The full-back then made a name for himself at Valencia and earned himself a return to his childhood club in 2012.
Returning Players – Jordi Alba
First Spell at Barcelona
Born in the autonomous Catalonian community, Jordi Alba joined La Masia in 1998. The talented youngster showed much promise and played most of his youth career at La Masia as a winger. But, after seven years, Alba was deemed too small and released by the club.
Teams That Jordi Alba Played for in Between
On being released from La Masia, Alba joined another Catalonian club, Cornella. The Spaniard spent two seasons at the youth academy before moving to Valencia. The talented youngster made his debut for the reserve side following his move and spent the second season on loan at Gimnastic.
It was at Valencia that Jordi Alba made a name for himself. The young Spaniard established himself as one of the most promising young players in Spain. An injury crisis at Los Che forced Unai Emery to convert the Spaniard into a left-back. The move proved to be a masterstroke as the Catalonian excelled in his new role.
Alba effortlessly adapted to his new position, providing depth to a talented young Valencia side. His performances for Los Che and the national team saw Barcelona looking to sign their former youth player. In 2012, Jordi Alba moved to his childhood club in a €14 million transfer, having made over 100 appearances for Valencia.
Return to Barcelona
Alba arrived at the Nou Camp as the replacement for Frenchman Eric Abidal. The full-back had been a colossus for Blaugrana, but health issues had suddenly curtailed the Abidal’s progress. Alba made his debut against Real Sociedad and opened his goal tally two months later in a 4-3 win over Deportivo La Coruna.
The left-back won his first piece of major silverware in his debut season as Barcelona won the La Liga title and added his second a few months later, winning the Spanish Super Cup. More success soon followed for the Spaniard. In his third season at the club, Alba along with a plethora of stars, helped Barcelona win their second treble.
Jordi Alba has been an integral part of the Barcelona setup since his arrival. His telepathic connection with Lionel Messi has seen the duo scoring and setting up some of the finest goals for Barcelona during the past nine seasons. Alba has won 15 major trophies, including five La Liga’s, five Copa del Rey’s, three Spanish Super Cup’s, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup in his nine seasons at the club. During this period, the Spaniard has 377 appearances and scored 22 times for the Blaugrana.
Now, at 32, Alba has lost a yard of his pace and is nearing the twilight of his career. However, he remains a key figure for the Catalan club.