Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Spanish Gem

24 05 2012

La Masia churns out talented individuals on an annual basis, but there is a sense of eagerness when the name Alejandro Grimaldo crops up in Catalonia. The left-back spot has not been a particular position of strength for the Cantera over the past decade, with players like Carles Planas, Oscar Lopez and even Fernando Navarro – despite enjoying remote success once leaving – failing to establish themselves amongst the senior ranks. Since Sergi Barjuán broke through at the start of the 1990’s, the Nou Camp has not had anyone to get excited about down the left flank, with Marc Muniesa being the most recent canterano, but he has a preference to play centrally. Despite this, the emergence of Grimaldo gives Culés hope that they have identified the left-sided Dani Alves.

Grimaldo was signed as a 13-year-old from Valencia in 2008, where he played for Los Che as a left winger wearing the number 10 shirt. His progression has been rapid and he is part of a select group of superstars who are progressing at Barcelona at the moment. Some of his teammates over the past few years have included current Arsenal pair Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin as well as Juventus defender Pol Garcia. The ‘1995 generation’ has swept everything before them at ‘Juvenil’ level including the Nike Premier Cup in Manchester.

Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Gem At La Masia

Grimaldo first came to prominence in the 2011/12 pre-season where he played in the 3-0 defeat to Espanyol in the Copa Catalunya, but did not look out of his depth against Thievy Bifouma and Pirulo. This made him the third youngest player in the history of Barcelona (including unofficial matches), behind Paulinho Alcantara and Haruna Babanginda. It did not take long for his performance to intrigue the club, and was awarded his Barcelona B debut by Eusebio Sacristán in the 4-0 win against Cartagena. At 15 years and 349 days, this made Grimaldo the youngest ever player to play in the Segunda Division, surpassing the record set by Babanginda in 1998 when the Nigerian was 16. It was an eventful debut, with him being the recipient of a nasty tackle from former Liverpool defender Josemi, who was shown a straight red card. Grimaldo also played a big role in Rafinha Alcantara’s second goal.

The 16-year-old seems to possess all the attributes to make it at Barcelona. Despite being short and frail, Spain does not seem to hold a prejudice unlike most European leagues so bulking up is not a necessity. Despite starting out as a winger, Grimaldo looks adept defensively and his tenacious approach sees him continuously regain possession. He constantly looks to push forward to use his pace, dribbling and passing to full effect. After already representing Spain at U16 and U17 levels this season, the Valencian looks set to represent La Roja at the U19 ranks this summer in pursuit of qualifying for the tournament in Estonia in July. A debutant in the Segunda, trained with the first team in November, and part of a promising generation alongside Sergi Samper and Jean Marie Dongou, the name Alejandro Grimaldo is certainly one to look out for, as long as Barça nurture him through progressively, otherwise his career could be unfulfilled and a failure like Babanginda’s.

To read more on this series of promising Spanish youngsters, check out Football Cantera

The Left-back Shows His Athleticism

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