Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola looks set to raid his former club once again as he searches for the final piece of his midfield puzzle. And this time he’s turned his attention to Carles Alena, the 18-year-old wonderkind who’s already drawing comparisons with Barcelona legend Xavi.
The Catalan giants are eager to tie the midfielder down to a long-term deal so that they can include a hefty £34m buyout clause in his contract, but that’s unlikely to put City off given the money Guardiola has at his disposal.
However, he’ll face stiff competition from across the city, as Jose Mourinho is reportedly also keen on adding Barcelona’s highest-rated talent.
So what do we know about Carles Alena?
He’s a key figure for Barcelona’s B team, who are currently sitting at the top of Segunda B’s Group 4. Alena has one goal and three assists to his name from 12 league appearances so far this season.
The Spaniard regularly trains with the first-team though, and he was included in Luis Enrique’s International Champions Cup squad, featuring against both Leicester City and Celtic back in the summer.
But it was in last season’s UEFA Youth League where he really stood out.
Despite dropping back and allowing players around him to push further forward, Alena managed to net six goals in just eight games, including a brace against Roma.
Predominantly a left-footer, Alena has a knack for drawing the defender into a challenge before dropping his shoulder and showing a burst of pace. It’s almost Jack Wilshere-esque how the 18-year-old glides across the pitch on the ball with his quick feet.
It’s easy to see why the midfielder is rated so highly at Barcelona, and having been at the club while Guardiola was in charge, he’ll have been brought up playing the ‘Pep way’.
Alena’s current contract is set to expire at the end of this season. And when that time comes, he’ll have a huge decision to make.
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