Confirmed: 8th Barcelona player called up for Spain to replace injured Jose Gaya

Updated 13:45, 18/11/22.

With Jose Gaya set to return home to Spain due to injury, it appears Luis Enrique has chosen Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde as his replacement.

The Valencia captain suffered an ankle strain on Wednesday and was expecting to continue with the Spain squad, but was surprised to learn he would be going home on Friday.

Multiple outlets, including Marca and Sport are reporting that Balde will be the chosen one to replace him. The 19-year-old only became a regular with Barcelona this season and has played just 23 times for the first-team in total. Spain have since confirmed the news.

Ahead of the call, Balde was with the under-21 Spain side. He was hoping to add to the two under-21 caps to his name before breaking for the World Cup, but now will have the chance to make his international debut at the tournament in the Qatar.

This will only further serve to animate those who believe that Luis Enrique shows favouritism towards Barcelona players. Balde would be the eighth Blaugrana player in the squad. Those suspicions have slightly been eased by the presence of Dani Carvajal and in particular, Marco Asensio in his squad. Asensio has barely played for Real Madrid this season but Luis Enrique decided he had plenty to offer for Los Blancos.

However it is hard to argue that Balde deserved his place more in the World Cup more than Real Betis’ Alex Moreno. The Verdiblanco left-back, has performed to a higher level than Balde and shown that he can do all that Balde can and more this season, and over last season too.

Equally if there is one thing Luis Enrique has shown himself to be, it is bold. The Asturian has no trouble calling up young players who he feels can fit his roles and at this point, it is worth wondering whether he just prefers working with young players for the most part.

Tags 2022 World Cup Alejandro Balde Jose Gaya Spain La Roja
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