Chelsea and Liverpool are reportedly eyeing a raid on Barcelona for teenage sensation Alex Balde, who is set to be fast-tracked into the senior team at Camp Nou.
According to a report from Spanish publication Sport, Premier League heavyweights Chelsea and Liverpool are planning a swoop on La Liga giants Barcelona in order to steal away promising teenager Alejandro ‘Alex’ Balde.
The 17-year-old is a left-back who has come through the youth ranks at Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth setup. The youngster, despite his tender age, was promoted the Catalans’ U19 setup last season and he went on to feature four times in the UEFA Youth League, assisting a goal in the process.
Held in the highest of regards within the club, Balde is set to be fast-tracked into the senior team at Camp Nou, following in the footsteps of Ansu Fati, who enjoyed a huge push last season. The teenager is now seen as an integral part of the Barcelona first-team setup now and as per the report, the club is hoping that Balde will also follow a similar career path.
Barcelona, as things stand, have Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo as the senior left-backs. And while the former is a mainstay in the side, the latter has hardly been used by manager Ronald Koeman. In fact, it is claimed that Firpo isn’t part of the manager’s plans moving forward and will be sold in the January transfer window, amidst interest from Inter Milan.
And, as per the report, Barcelona don’t plan on investing on a new left-back to cover for and compete with Alba. Instead, the Catalans will push Balde into the first-team picture to replace Firpo. However, the Catalans might have a fight at their hands to keep hold of the teenager, with a number of clubs across Europe keeping an eye on the 17-year-old, chief among them being Chelsea and Liverpool.
Chelsea, for years, have been known to recruit youngsters with potential and although not many end up making the grade to the first-team at Stamford Bridge, things are changing under Frank Lampard, who has been providing youngsters plenty of chances as seen by the rise to prominence of Reece James, Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour, among others.
The Blues bagged another gifted talent from Barcelona this past summer, signing Xavier Mbuyamba on a free transfer and may well return for Balde. However, they will face competition from arch-rivals Liverpool, who have also shown a propensity towards strengthening their development squad in recent years.
Indeed, the Reds have recruited promising talents such as Harvey Elliott, Sepp van den Berg recently and are eyeing Crystal Palace’s 15-year-old wonderkid Zion Atta, while also chasing the signing of Sam Campbell from Motherwell. Balde would be another fine addition to the youth ranks at Anfield.
However, it is believed that Balde is content with his situation at Barcelona, considering that he has been pushed to the ‘B’ team this summer. And with there being a strong chance of him breaking into the first-team at Camp Nou in the near future, Chelsea and Liverpool might find it difficult to convince the 17-year-old to make the switch to England.