Having patiently waited for an opportunity to become part of the first-team squad on a regular basis at Barcelona, Carles Alena finally appears ready to emerge from the shadows.
The 20-year-old is over his injury and playing consistently well, and the recent acknowledgment by the club that they won’t send him out on loan suggests that they have big plans for a player who is coveted by other teams.
Mauricio Pochettino was recently at a Barcelona B fixture, and the rumours, though unsubstantiated, were that he had come specifically to watch Alena.
There are a handful of talented individuals in the reserve set up, but it would seem at this stage that Alena is the most likely to be able to make the step up and stay there.
With the January transfer window just around the corner and an overbooking in the midfield areas already, it makes sense for the club to offload some of those already in situ in order to make room.
Arthur Melo has played himself into the ‘Xavi’ role and it’s hard to imagine a starting XI without him in it now, such has been his impact.
Sergi Roberto operates better in midfield but can free up a place if Ernesto Valverde wishes to slot him in at right-back, and though Philippe Coutinho would ostensibly play on the left of a front three, he can also drop back onto the left of a midfield four.
The former is so far out of the first-team picture it’s embarrassing. If ever there was a situation where someone was being ‘managed out’ of the business, then this is it. Not even in the matchday squads most weeks, Suarez hasn’t managed a single minute for the club in 2018/19.
It’s no wonder that he has, figuratively speaking, fluttered his eyelashes at Arsenal’s interest.
There seems little future for him at Barcelona, and therefore a move would suit all parties.
Rafinha appeared likely to move to Real Betis during the summer, but the Verdiblancos and the Blaugrana couldn’t agree terms so the Brazilian ended up staying.
Valverde quickly praised Rafinha’s attitude and ability but just as suddenly allowed his participation to dwindle.
Though he’s seen some action in this campaign, it’s far from ideal. With Monchi having already enquired as to his services, a potential move to Roma could be on the cards.
If the club are genuinely serious about bringing Alena on as a player, then the only sensible solution is to regrettably allow Suarez and Rafinha to go.
The amount saved on wages may allow them to strengthen in other areas too.
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