Real Madrid find rich vein of young talent as Barcelona’s conveyor belt all but stops


Xavi Hernandez would have appreciated the irony at the Camp Nou on Sunday very much indeed. Barcelona were about to bring on a talented, highly exciting kid from their academy to replace a battle-scarred, high-profile midfield general: Carles Alena ordered to take over from Arturo Vidal.wholesale cheap nfl jersey china

Boos and whistles rang out around the Camp Nou. A brutal reminder, if your memory is long enough, that the more things change, the more things stay the same.9

The reference to Xavi is that, when he was Alena’s age, the young Catalan maestro often had to listen to his beloved Camp Nou boo and whistle shrill disapproval while he queued on the touchline to replace Pep Guardiola. The anger and spleen venting were back in the barren times, when Barcelona were failing miserably and in the midst of a six-year trophy drought. The Camp Nou didn’t appreciate that their declining hero, Guardiola, appeared to be falling victim to Xavi’s precocious skills.

Xavi — I know because he told me so — felt the acute horror of a vast public referendum against him and dislike appearing to rain down from the dark nighttime skies while Guardiola trotted toward him. His stomach was knotted with the fear of failing in front of a hostile audience that should, in principal, already have been head over heels in love with this locally bred, Camp Nou-educated wholesale nfl jerseys china

Not for a second am I saddling Alena with the burden of being named “the next Xavi,” but the 20-year-old, Catalan-born midfielder is talented — anyone who can’t see that is a fool. He also has vision, technique and confidence that evoke better days in the Barcelona academy when Cruyff principles were taught and taught well.

The real comparison is that there he stood, unable to be wholly sure what the hostile reception was about while waiting to seize this massive chance to advance his Barcelona career. The Spanish champions’ injury list is like a phone book, the match with Villarreal was balanced on a knife edge, and Ernesto Valverde had tapped him on the shoulder.