Even his most fervent advocates could not have predicted that Alejandro Balde would be going to the World Cup this winter.
The Barcelona left-back had played just seven times for the Blaugrana before the start of this season and was all set to leave on loan this campaign before an impressive preseason.
As it was, he started Barcelona’s second La Liga match of the season against Real Sociedad and Balde has not looked back since.
Due to Jose Gaya’s unfortunate injury just a week before Spain were due to kick-off against Costa Rica, the Valencia left-back has been forced to withdraw from the Spain squad.
It was Balde who was chosen to replace him. At the time he got the call, Balde was part of the Spain under-21 camp and teammate Hugo Novoa caught his reaction on video.
Balde will now fly to Qatar and join up with the senior Spain side for the first time. In fact, Balde has just 54 professional appearances in total, and only 23 for the senior side at Barcelona. 16 of those came this season. In addition, he has only played twice internationally at the under-21 level in September.
It is hard to recall such a rapid rise into a national side as that of Balde. Although many will no doubt question his inclusion, Balde has taken everything else in his stride this season.