masia | 2015-04-04
Meet Carles Aleñá
La Masia's Complete Midfielder
This was what a young Carles Aleñá had to say in front of former president Sandro Rosell and around 300 boys and girls at La Masia, showing his Barça spirit:
“Wearing this shirt with this crest and defending these colors is an honor and we all feel privileged. Maybe one day we can be part of Barça’s first team and contribute to this club’s grandeur.”
That’s the kind of player he is: A leader, a capitá. Aleña is a part of the incredibly talented trio, all born in 1998: Carles Aleñá, Ayoub Abou, and Lee Seung Woo. A trio that we will hopefully hear a lot about in the next few years.
While not being incredibly fast, Aleñá has great playmaking abilities, good ball control, good defending abilities, and a stunning left foot. On top of that, he’s a natural leader. He has been the captain of every single bracket at La Masia since he was with the Benjamin A side (U-10) a couple of years after he joined the Barcelona cantera.
Coming from the city of Mataró in one of Catalonia’s largest regions, Maresme, Aleñá has been a Barcelonista since the beginning, with his family being Barça fans, too.
When Aleñá was younger, he was very small and weak but he hit an unusual growth spurt in the last couple of years and he now has a great physique. He can cope with opposition players in his age group but also against players one or two years older than him. He showed this last year by being selected for Juvenil B (U-18) games toward the end of the season, despite being eligible for Cadet A (U-17).
He is a todocampista, as they say in Spain. A player for every position on the pitch. In other words, Aleñá is a complete player. He can dictate the play and provide the inch-perfect pass like Xavi; he can get back and defend like Busquets; he can instantly change pace and create a counter attack like Iniesta; and he can score and assist goals like Fabregas. He is also good in the air and has a great long shot. Mix all these together with great leadership abilities and you have a fine talent.
In the last few years, Aleñá has been wanted by English teams such as Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal. Teams that have been hunting around La Masia for many years now and ensnaring quite a lot over the past 10 years. Luckily it looks like he knows where his heart is, seeing that he has already rejected several offers from English clubs before signing his first contract with Barça after his 16th birthday.
He has already been mentioned in an article by the big Catalan paper Mundo Deportivo, where they praised his talent and even compared him with Diego Maradona. This is not only because of his physique and curly hair, but also because of his playing style. Compared to Maradona who focused more on attacking, Aleñá is more of an all-around midfielder. The article noted that with Aleña being so outgoing, open, and having a friendly personality at the same time, it isn’t any surprise that he has been the captain of almost every team he has played for. Both at Barça and with Spain’s national youth teams.
While he played at Alevin A, Aleñá was a well-known name in the tournaments around Spain, and was also the star player at the Torneo de Estepona in 2010 when Barça won against Real Madrid after a penalty shootout. Despite playing left wing for the majority of that tournament, Aleñá scored six goals and was named player of the tournament.
The next season at Infantil B, Aleñá again played an important role against Real Madrid in the final of the Torneo de Arona, which Barça won again after a penalty shoot-out.
With eight goals in the 2011-12 season with Infantil A, Aleña helped his team to win the Infantil league in Spain. They later won the prestigious Lennart Johansson Cup in Sweden after beating Red Star Belgrade in the finals. Aleñá also scored a beautiful free-kick against Atletico Madrid in a tournament final during the same season.
Last season he played with Cadet A but because of his tremendous performances, he was promoted to Juvenil B for the last games of the season. He even scored on his debut for Juvenil B. He started in the majority of the remaining league games. Aleñá was very impressive in their final league match against Cornella, especially because of his ability to dictate the game against opponents who where one or two years older than him. I was present at the game and his talent was impossible to go unnoticed.
During the 2014 pre-season Aleñá was the top-scorer in the Michalovce Cup with five goals, but Juvenil B only managed a third-place finish, while Aleñá was crowned the second best player of the tournament. He was named MVP in the Wospac Cup a few weeks later.
During the 2014/2015 season, Aleñá has captained Juvenil A but despite being behind Espanyol in the league, currently at second place, Aleñá has been playing well, scoring twelve goals for club and country, including some absolute crackers from outside the box. In the beginning of March, Aleñá started to do so well at Juvenil B that Juvenil A coach Garcia Pimienta, his former coach, decided to include him for a couple of Juvenil A games. He ended up doing very well in the minutes he got.
Aleñá was also registered in Juvenil A’s UEFA Youth League squad for the knockout stages, but never got the chance to show his capabilities because Barça was knocked out in the first knock-out stage against Anderlecht. But he'll get to shine in the Youth League next year for sure.
Aleñá will play at Juvenil A next year, where he will most likely form the midfield with Moroccan Ayoub Abou. A partnership that looks to be very exciting.
For Spain's youth teams, Aleñá has been a key figure as well. He started with the U-16s last season but after some very impressive games in friendlies (including one against Germany), the U-17 coach decided to include Aleñá in their squad and he hasn't looked back ever since. He's now their captain and has been starting all the friendlies this season, including games against Italy and Germany.
With Carles Aleñá’s talent, physique and maturity, he is definitely a player worth keeping track of over the next few years.
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