Barcelona boss Xavi has insisted that Jordi Alba was ‘never close’ to leaving Camp Nou this summer.
The 33-year-old was again a vital player for his Catalan club during the 2021-22 campaign, making 44 appearances in all competitions, contributing three goals and 12 assists in the process.
Alba started Barcelona’s 2022-23 open against Rayo Vallecano on August 13, but he has been named on the bench for their last two games against Real Sociedad and Real Valladolid, with Alejandro Balde selected at left-back.
On transfer deadline day, Barcelona were reportedly in discussions with Inter Milan over a possible loan move for the Spain international, but the player rejected an exit.
Xavi has now addressed the transfer speculation, insisting that Alba, who also has competition at left-back from new arrival Marcos Alonso, was ‘never close’ to a departure.
“Alba is a player in our squad and he is key to the team. He will undoubtedly play during the season, but no player is safe from anything,” Xavi told reporters ahead of the clash with Sevilla.
“I want Jordi Alba here. As a captain and because of our great affinity. At no time did I ever think that Alba was going to leave the club. Balde can play in other positions, not only as a left-back, Marcos Alonso too. There will be games for everyone.”
Alba moved to Barcelona from Valencia in 2012, and he has represented the Catalan outfit on 431 occasions in all competitions, contributing 25 goals and 94 assists in the process.
The Spaniard still has another two years left to run on his contract, but he could again be forced to accept a spot on the bench for Saturday’s La Liga clash with Sevilla.
Xavi has also addressed Gerard Pique‘s position at Camp Nou, with the experienced centre-back falling down the pecking order at the club due to the summer arrivals.
Pique is yet to play a minute of La Liga football this term, with the likes of Andreas Christensen, Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia and Jules Kounde ahead of him in the thoughts of the manager.
“Pique is training very well and I don’t see him upset. I try to keep him happy,” said the head coach. “The decisions, with Pique and everyone, are technical. I have to make decisions based on what I see in training. When Pique plays, you guys would ask me why Araujo or Kounde do not play,” he said.
“The captains are helping a lot. Their commitment to the club and the team is impeccable, whether they play or not.”
Barcelona brought in Christensen, Franck Kessie, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Kounde, Hector Bellerin and Alonso during a busy summer transfer window.