With days remaining until the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Spain has been dealt with a massive blow as Jose Gaya has been ruled out of the competition owing to an injury.
In light of his absence, Spain has confirmed they have called up Barcelona youngster Alejandro Balde as his replacement. The young left-back is soon set to join the nation’s expedition in Qatar, just a few days before the World Cup starts.
Balde was tipped as one of the surprise inclusions in the Spanish squad just days before Luis Enrique revealed his final team. Although the youngster did not make the list initially, he was one of the players in contention to get a spot in the event of an injury.
That moment has finally come, with Balde bracing himself for his first appearance in the Spanish national team in the World Cup.
The Barcelona starlet has yet to win a single cap for La Roja. But it appears he is set to serve as a second fiddle to his Barça teammate Jordi Alba in the left-back position. It will not come as a surprise to see Enrique handing him an odd opportunity in one of the group stage matches.
Based on the performances, Balde may even get a regular berth in the starting eleven later on in the competition. The 19-year-old, after all, has already established himself as a key member of the Barcelona squad and has been ahead of Alba in the pecking order so far this season.
Whether or not that translates into this international stage remains to be seen. But this call-up will serve as an excellent opportunity for Balde to establish himself as one of the best young full-backs in Europe by performing at the highest level of football.