The famed Barcelona La Masia is known for producing some of the best potentials in the game. But because of the highest level of quality available in the senior team, very little of the club’s Academy graduates get to make it to join the big boys.
Most recent of them is former Barcelona B captain, Alex Grimaldo. Currently with Portuguese giants Benfica after leaving his childhood club in January, the 21-year-old has grown into a better player, earning visits from Manchester United and Manchester City scouts in recent games.
The Mancunian eternal rivals are said to be very much interested in the left back ahead of a prospective switch come January. And here is a comprehensive report on him as to why he has once again attracted the big wigs.
Grimaldo arrived Barcelona as a 13-year-old bag of potentials and was once under Guardiola’s tutelage before making it to the Barcelona B team permanently in 2011.
He became the youngest player to ever play a game in Spain’s 2nd division when he made his debut against Cartagena just 16 days before his 16th birthday.
Alex’s form on club level meant he was a regular part of Spain’s youth teams from the under-16 to under-23, and he was the main member of the side that emerged champions at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2012.
With his contract nearing expiration last December, the Valencia-born youngster opted against a deal renewal as Enrique never for once called him up to the senior team.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City were keen on luring him to England in January, but he favoured a move to the Portuguese league so as to get first team football.
That didn’t happen immediately as he was seldom used all through the second half of the season. But that is now history as Grimaldo has made Benfica’s left back starting position permanently his, playing in all 7 league games of the new season till date.
His fine form earned him a debut call-up to the national team this international break, and he would definitely be looking at giving Alba and Monreal a run for the money at the La Roja left back role in few seasons.
Style of Play
Grimaldo started out as a winger, and his attacking instincts are still prevalent.
He will often make dashing runs forward on the left flank with the hope of getting a fine cross into opposition’s 18-yard box. More often than not, he always does, and this can be traced to his keen eye for precise passes.
His ball playing abilities, as evident in the quintessential Spaniard full back make him comfortable in possession, and why Guardiola wants such a player isn’t utterly surprising.
Grimaldo can also be very handy on deadballs, an assertion made evident right before the international break when he got his 1st goal of the season from a free kick against Feirense.
Where will he fit in
Manchester City particularly can do with a left back of Grimaldo’s calibre, even if he will be immediately making his way into first team contention doesn’t look likely with Clichy and Kolarov very much available.
At United, Luke Shaw’s fitness injuries could be a key reason the Red Devils are considering the Benfica full-back, but Blind seems to be doing perfectly well in the absence of the former Southampton star.
With a buyout clause of £51million, if both sides, including other suitors like Juventus and Valencia will be interested in activating it remains to be seen.