BARCELONA

Barcelona pearl Alejandro Balde a possible replacement for Júnior

Aged 17, the left-back will join the first team squad if Júnior is sold in January. The club's technical department are confident he is ready to make the step.

Barcelona pearl Alejandro Balde a possible replacement for Júnior
Dean Mouhtaropoulos Getty Images

Barcelona have high hopes for teenage defender Alejandro Balde. For economic needs and considering the sporting requirements of the first team, the club is thinking about selling Júnior Firpo. But for the time being, no one is proposing bringing in a replacement from elsewhere. They already have an up and coming player from La Masia lined up. Balde, an Under-18 Spain international has impressed Barcelona's youth team coaching staff, and they feel confident that Koeman, who is open to giving young players a chance, could open the door to the senior side for the talented left-back.

As a boy, Balde's main passion was athletics but he soon started to show promise at CE Sant Gabriel and from there, he moved to Espanyol. He spent just one year with the Pericos. In 2011,  he entered Barça's youth academy and now he is close to realising his dream by playing for the first team. Like Ansu Fati, Álex Balde has Guinean blood. His father Saliu is from Bissau. His mother is Dominican - curiously, where Júnior is also from. It's an explosive mix - a player with African and Carribean attributes make Balde a player who has caught the eye of a number of European clubs but for now, he is under contract with Barça. He has already trained with the first team squad. It would be no surprise if he is handed his senior debut soon.