Barcelona secured another crucial victory on Wednesday night away to Real Betis, leaving them with 50 points from the opening half of the La Liga season. It was in no small part down to Alejandro Balde.
The 19-year-old saw some limited game time last season but has exploded this campaign. Winning a place in the Spanish World Cup squad, he now appears to be the undisputed started for Barcelona.
Against Real Betis he was a constant threat down the left, while dealing well with Luiz Henrique. Balde was responsible for the opening goal of the game with a ball across the box for Raphinha, also creating another excellent chance for Pedri.
“He is performing at a very high level,” glowed his manager Xavi Hernandez after the game.
“His potential is tremendous, in defence and in attack. He gives us superiority when he drives forward and we encourage him to continue like this. He is a full-back and winger at many points,” he told Sport.
4 – Only Jamal Musiala (6) has made more assists than Alejandro Balde (4) in Europe's top five leagues this season among all the players under the age of 20. Dagger. pic.twitter.com/a39Kw4f9O7
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 1, 2023
As per Opta, Balde is second (4) on the list of teenage assisters behind only Jamal Musiala (6) this season, which shows the class he is operating in.
Xavi has often favoured a 4-3-3 with Gavi or Pedri in the frontline of late, giving Barcelona extra strength in midfield. Part of the reason he has been able to do is down to Balde’s runs down the left, meaning the Blaugrana do not lose width.
Jamal Musiala is the only teenager with more assists in the big five leagues than Alejandro Balde.pic.twitter.com/X2xZQhCjYQ
— Football España (@footballespana_) February 2, 2023