Barcelona could look to tweak their defense in light of Balde’s performances

GRANADA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: Xavi Hernandez, manager of FC Barcelona looks on during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Granada CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on October 08, 2023 in Granada, Spain.
Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

FC Barcelona continue to remain measured about their season up ahead given the difficulties that they face. With significant reinforcements in January not being a valid idea thus far, Xavi will have to rely on the players he already has. However, this means that some players deserve more chances than others.

In particular, players that underperform need to be benched by the manager. Some of these players can be seen as fan favorites, but quality of play is a much more important factor. Hence, from among the Barcelona players that could be considered as holding the team back, one is a prodigy from La Masia.

Left-back dilemma

Alejandro Balde, 19 years of age, is the primary left-back in Xavi’s Barcelona. However, according to Mundo Deportivo, he may just end up losing this importance to another key player. Joao Cancelo, on loan from Manchester City, provides a much more in-form and experienced option.

Versatile alternative

Despite primarily being a right-back, Cancelo has shown himself to be versatile. For Erling Haaland and City last season, Cancelo proved to be a great creative asset even as a left-back. Even now, for Barcelona, he has taken various responsibilities that include midfield roles as well as playing in a winger’s position.

On the other hand, Balde has failed to live up to his levels from last season. Having provided 6 assists in the previous campaign, those numbers are falling short this season. With only a singular assist thus far to Sergi Roberto, Balde will need to quickly improve his contributions to Barcelona.

Defensive reinforcements

With Jules Kounde now available, Xavi has the option to deploy a more defensively sound setup. In the event that Joao Cancelo is shifted to the left, either Kounde or Araujo could take over the right-back position, while the other one pairs up with either Andreas Christensen or Inigo Martinez in the central defense.

This allows Barcelona to have many more options in terms of defensive depth. Even with Balde’s declining performances, Xavi has enough options to balance out the problems.

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