Over the last few seasons, Barcelona have boasted of a breakthrough star regularly. Pedri slotted right into the starting lineup under Ronald Koeman, Ilaix Moriba was considered the next big thing before he eventually left, and soon after that Barça boasted of Gavi and Nico Gonzalez in midfield.
However, of all the very talented youngsters coming through La Masia to the first team, Alejandro Balde’s rise to prominence has been the most surprising.
The Spanish defender was barely starting for Barcelona Atletic less than a season ago, but convinced Xavi with his performances during pre-season. He earned a spot over Jordi Alba and Marcos Alonso at left-back, and has now been called up to the Spanish national team for the World Cup.
Speaking to Catalunya Radio about his sudden career escalation, Balde said, “It’s all been very fast. Four months ago, I was playing for Barça B, and two weeks go, for the under-21s. Now, all of a sudden, I am playing in a World Cup. It’s a dream for me.”
Balde made his debut for the senior team during Spain’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica, and admitted he was not the coolest customer when called upon by Lucho.
I was nervous before going to the field, but then acted as usual. In the team, I had coincided with many Barcelona players, with whom I feel very comfortable.”
At 19, Balde is not even the youngest player in the Spanish national team. That honour goes to Man of the Match from Spain’s opener, Gavi. The midfielder scored the 5th goal, becoming the youngest player since Pele to score in the tournament history.
“It’s a spectacle to watch Gavi play. Yesterday, we were joking around, and I called him Gavi-Pele, because of the record. I’m very happy for him,” Balde said, speaking about Gavi.
Spain take on Germany on Sunday in arguably the biggest fixture of the World Cup group stages. Balde is not expected to start the game, but could see some minutes off the bench depending on Jordi Alba’s performance.