As expected, Barça, who had already been heavily active in the transfer market, also starred in a key role in a frenetic last day. The Catalan club finally shifted several players and were also able to bring in Hector Bellerín and Marcos Alonso, two great full-backs. In the end, the only serious setback for the club was the setback suffered by Jordi Alba, with a possible loan move to Serie A giants Inter Milan falling through. The player refused the transfer and the fact that the attempt was made public has angered the defender with Xavi now having three left-backs on the books: Balde, who had been playing ahead of Jordi Alba, the latter, and a new recruit in the shape of Marcos Alonso.
Alba on the bench
Barça trusted in the ‘Qatar effect’. This ‘Qatar effect’ can be summed up as follows: here you are going to be a substitute and thus you will hardly count for the national team, so it is convenient for you to go to Inter, who want you, and thus you will be a starter and you will be able to go to the World Cup. That is the claim that has allowed Barça to unclog other exits, but Jordi Alba was not keen to subscribe to this initiative and the defender along with Piqué, both seem surplus to Xavi’s current needs. Piqué is now the fifth centre-back, but his exit options are limited with Alba’s international career in the balance given his projected lack of club football at Camp Nou. The 33-year-old now has a small window to convince Xavi and reverse the situation.
Asensio hoping to be on the plane to Doha
Another similar case is that of Asensio, who didn’t move either but was keen to do so because he is aware that playing continuously in a good team could see the player on the list for Qatar. The 26-year-old even changed his agent, moving to Jorge Mendes, with the Portuguese super-agent extremely active in the international market. No significant offers however materialised for Asensio but at Real Madrid he can still be used by Ancelotti on the right wing or even as a false nine when Benzema is absent with the player boasting one of the finest shots in LaLiga. This transfer window experience may even be good for the Palma born attacker and serve as a wake-up call prompting the player to realise that if he wants to secure first team football at the club and head to Qatar, he needs to fight for his place.