Ahead of England's international friendly against Spain on
Saturday, we profile the world champions' versatile left-sider Jordi Alba, who
may be given a chance to impress at Wembley by manager Vicente del Bosque.
Player: Jordi Alba Ramos
Date of birth: March 21, 1989
Place of birth: Barcelona, Spain
Height: 1.70m (5ft 7in)
Current club: Valencia
Former clubs: Gimnastic (season-long
|Background: Jordi Alba's impressive Spain debut against Scotland last month has brought him attention from the wider footballing public outside of those who regularly view La Liga, and it is no surprise that he has been linked with a move to Manchester United in recent weeks.
The 22-year-old has been marked out as a potential long-term replacement at Old Trafford for Patrice Evra, while also pegged as a main contender to be Spain's regular left-back with incumbent Joan Capdevila turning 34 early next year.
Yet another player reared by Barcelona's old La Masia academy, Alba was released by Barca in 2005 at the age of 16.
He was spotted at the Estadio Via Ferrea by scouts from Valencia, who plucked him from the obscurity of the regional divisions for a fee of just £5,100 and put him straight into their B team. In his first season at the Ciudad Deportiva de Paterna he played mainly as a winger, scoring five goals in 18 appearances as Los Che's reserves won promotion back up to the third tier of the Spanish league system.
While his form impressed those in charge of the senior squad, Alba was sent back to Catalonia in the 2008-09 season for a season-long loan at Gimnastic de Tarragona, where he played 35 games in the Segunda Division and scored four goals.
Valencia boss Unai Emery had seen enough to be convinced that the youngster was ready for the first team and Alba made his debut on the left wing as an 80th-minute substitute for David Silva in the 4-2 win at Real Valladolid on September 13 2009. Just a handful of other appearances in La Liga and the Europa League would follow before the end of the year.
A raft of injuries the following spring gave him the chance of a run in the team at left-back. The first of that run was a trip back to the Camp Nou, predictably settled by a Lionel Messi hat-trick, but in his subsequent 11 starts that season he helped the team keep seven clean sheets and scored his first goal for them against Mallorca.
Since then, Alba has largely usurped Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu as first-choice left-back for Emery, although the manager has this season taken to starting them together on occasion.
Alba took just six minutes to make his mark for the world and European champions, setting up Silva for the first goal in a 3-1 win which saw La Furia Roja qualify for Poland and Ukraine with a 100 per cent record.
|Analysis from Levante 0-2 Valencia on November 5 at the Ciudad de Valencia, starting as left winger:
10' - Alba holds off Javi Venta and takes a boot to the head from Sergio Ballesteros, but the referee does not give it.
19' - Sofiane Feghouli tricks his way past two defenders and cuts the ball back for Alba, but the shot is way off target.
25' - Alba tracks Venta's run down the flank and gets clattered into by the Levante full-back.
26' - Alba gets the upper hand in his running battle with Venta, winning a corner from him.
31' - An exceptional, defence-splitting pass from Tino
39' - A harsh booking for Alba following an aerial collision
54' - Alba almost has time and space on the edge of the box
From Spain 3-1 Scotland
6' - Great run and cross from Alba down the left and Silva
53' - Mesmerising passing and movement from Spain before
67' - Alba gets in a tackle on substitute James Forrest at
73' - More good defending from Alba as Scotland are buoyed
77' - Alba draws a foul from James Morrison which gets the
|Player ratings (marks out of 10):
Approximate value: £8 million