A new era has begun at Camp Nou as the new blood is taking over to represent the Garnet and Blue in a transition phase that has seen veteran players such as Pique, Alba, and Busquets gradually being replaced in the starting eleven.
Jordi Alba has lost his place in Barca’s starting line-up to a young and talented Alejandro Balde since the first match of the 2022/23 campaign against Rayo Vallecano at Spotify Camp Nou. The 18-year-old La Masia graduate has shown immense potential while playing far better than his out-of-form predecessor Jordi Alba.
Alejandro Balde has already bagged three assists so far from five La Liga starts this season and also won the hearts of the fans. With the arrival of Marcos Alonso, Jordi Alba has a difficult task to get back his place in Xavi’s preferred Eleven. It seems that the grass is not greener at Barca for Jordi Alba anymore.
Gerard Pique is also languishing on the bench with only one start to his name against Cadiz since the start of this season. Summer arrivals Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde plus the in-form Eric Garcia and Ronald Araujo have made it hard for Gerard Pique to make it to the starting eleven. He has fallen down the pecking order and now is the fifth-choice center-back for the Catalan giants.
Pique’s off-field scandals have always made it hard for him to concentrate on football and despite him being a great servant for the club with his numerous sacrifices on and off the field, all roads point out to Pique having to leave the club at the end of this season. He won’t have it easy breaking into the starting eleven but he might get some minutes in the less competitive fixtures to help Xavi rotate his squad.
J.M Casanovas (Sport journalist): “Piqué is on the bench not because of Xavi’s decision. It is because Araujo, Koundé, Eric, and Christensen are all playing spectacularly well.”
Sergio Busquets still remains a peripheral figure in Xavi’s starting eleven. The Octopus of Badia as he is widely referred to in Spain has played a key part in Xavi’s team. However, on Saturday, Xavi decided to rest Sergio Busquets and gave the keys to Frenkie de Jong in the center of the park
Frenkie De Jong in particular has been touted by many as the veteran’s successor but he always struggled as a lone pivot. On Saturday, Frenkie left a positive impression on the game as he produced a solid game despite playing in his unfavored lone pivot role, recycling possession several times and helping the buildups. However it seems that Busquets is still the preferred CDM for Xavi and was only rested for Saturday’s game, but anything can happen depending on his performance in the upcoming games.
Sergio Busquets is set to leave the club at the end of this season but we have to wait to see what happens to Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique at the end of the season as their contracts are set to expire by the end of 2023-2024 season.