Jordi Alba has admitted that he never expected to find himself back at Barcelona, after leaving the club as a youth.
After seven years in the club’s youth system, a 16-year-old Alba was shown the door at La Masia in 2005.
However, after impressing as a converted left-back for Valencia, Barca bought back the 23-year-old this summer for a reported €14m, in a turnaround in fortune that the player admits himself was unexpected.
“When you are in the lower grades at the club it looks very difficult to reach the first team. Many people dream like you of making it and there is not room for everyone, but for some there are more chances,” he recalled to Mundo Deportivo, of his time in La Masia.
“When you leave, you realise the greatness of the club and now I am even more aware. I’ve found a team that has offered me a great deal.
“Honestly I took [Barca’s decision to release me] well. From when I was small I only thought of playing. The dream to reach the first team was there, but there was no bitterness. I really wanted to go elsewhere because I believed in me and I honestly never thought I could be coming back.
“Who can I thank for returning? The truth is that the Coaches I had in the Barca youth system helped me a lot, like Cesar Ferrando, who I relied on a lot.
“Perhaps more than anyone though, Unai Emery shaped me because he converted me at Valencia to playing as full-back and thanks to that change I am where I am today.”
Alba was asked if he is surprised at how well he has seemingly fitted into the first team at the Camp Nou.
“I don’t know if I am surprised by my form. Yes I am happy to be here with Barca, for the minutes that I am playing and for how things are going, both individually and collectively.
“After the game against Sevilla, after the flu that I had, I found my tone and I hope to keep it that way until the end of the season.
“The truth is that I have come to the ideal team for the features that I have. Moreover, the quality that you play with makes it very easy to play.
“Being in this Barca side is a joy, because you can participate in possession of the ball, move forward, to be an alternative to attack the opponent.
“Tito emphasises much on us, especially when the opponent is closed in defence. The truth is that I never imagined returning to the club, let alone doing it as a full-back.”