Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba has been ever-present on the left side of Camp Nou for the past decade, but this season he has finally seen his place come under threat. The explosion of Alejandro Balde has left him on the bench for most of the biggest games of the season.
Despite the fact that Alba is putting together some of the best numbers in La Liga offensively, Balde’s pace and strong defensive work have kept Alba waiting for his opportunities.
Speaking on Universo Valdano (via Sport), Alba admitted that while he is not playing as much as wants to, he is enjoying his role as elser statesman in the Barcelona squad.
“I’m not getting the minutes I’d like, but I’m doing my job and I have another role with my teammates. We all always want and think we can play more. I feel good, I’m proud, to have my head right. I know what I am as a player, what I have given and what I can give. I feel strong, when you feel good mentally and physically, everything is easier. I am a better player now than ten years ago.”
He also appears to share a good relationship with the new generation of stars breaking through too.
“It’s a very nice responsibility, I’m from home, I’ve been at the club for many years and I’m proud to represent this team. I like this role, helping the youngest, advising them, keeping their feet on the ground. When you’ve been helped, it’s easier to help others.”
Alba has often been heavily criticised at Camp Nou over recent years, as has fellow veteran Sergio Busquets. Barcelona appear to be incredibly fortunate that while they may have had some doubts about Alba on the pitch in recent years, he has handled his new role expertly. Not all top-level footballers respond maturely to being dropped, but Alba appears to be doing as much as could be hoped.