Last Thursday Barcelona announced that they would be renewing left-back Jordi Alba for the next five years, and placed a 500 million euro buyout clause on his new deal.
As statements of intent go, and after a period of uncertainty, it was pretty categoric from the Catalans.
Clearly, they rate their left-back highly enough to keep him at the club until the end of his career.But in so doing, have they made the right decision?
No one can deny that since Alba returned to the club in 2012, he has played as full a part as anyone in Barcelona’s success.
That the club wish to reward him for that is only right, however, by handing him a five-year deal, it potentially means he will be in situ until he is 35 years of age.
For a player whose natural game is built around pace, there have to be questions asked, as there’s not too much doubt that his speed will dwindle significantly over the next few seasons.
With youngsters coming through at Barca B level and below, they may now decide to move on to pastures new because of a belief that their pathway into the first team has been blocked for the foreseeable future.
One can’t blame Alba of course. He’s content to go about his business of being the best attacking left-back in world football, and to that end, it’s down to any pretenders to his throne to play well enough to dislodge him.
Equally, as we’ve seen in other positions in the team – think Paco Alcacer’s struggle to get a starting spot ahead of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi - players are not going to join a club, or stay at it if they’re academy graduates, if they don’t feel that there is a genuine chance of career progression.
One thing that’s always been levelled at president Josep Maria Bartomeu is that his vision is too short term.
That the promotion of players from La Masia, one of the pillars on which Johan Cruyff built the club up from the Dream Team era, has been eroded ever since Joan Laporta was ousted.
Though there’s probably a discussion to be had around that, the immediacy of football nowadays does mean that presidents – and coaches – are judged much quicker on the strength of the results they achieve.
And by having the best players in certain positions, winning games becomes much easier as a consequence.
Jordi Alba falls into the category, so realistically Bartomeu was damned whichever decision he made with regards to the player.
Barcelona have become victims of their own success.