Newcastle United have been watching young Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena according to media claims this morning.
Making his first team debut earlier this season as a then 18 year old, the left-footed attacking midfielder actually scored Barca’s goal in a cup game at Hercules in a 1-1 draw.
Now 19, Carles Alena has played most of the season for Barcelona’s second string and helped them bounce back to the second tier of Spanish football, ending the season as champions of the third level.
April saw a promotion to involvement with the first team in La Liga, the youngster getting three substitute appearances, the last of which brought him off the bench to replace Lionel Messi in a 7-1 win against Osasuna. This is the club where Emmanuel Riviere has been on loan all season and failed to score a single goal, though he didn’t even make the bench in this (mis-)match.
Rafa Benitez has had his scouts watching Carles Alena according to The Sun and is interested in bringing him to St James Park this summer.
The Newcastle boss is guaranteed to be linked with players back in his homeland this summer but Barcelona do have a track record of allowing young players to move on to other countries on loan to develop them.
For example Gerard Deulofeu had a successful loan spell at Everton (including running Paul Dummett ragged when the Toffees won 3-0 at St James Park in Match 2014) as a 19 year old when Barcelona allowed him to go to Goodison Park on a temporary basis, the winger eventually signing permanently two years later.
The media report says another option that Barcelona could exercise is selling Carles Alena but with a right to buy him back in the future at a certain price if he progresses (and the player is willing).
Losing out in both La Liga and the Champions League this past season, Barcelona will be looking to bounce back and their new manager is sure to invest heavily in the transfer market, making it even less likely that young players such as Alena will get first team chances.
Whilst Rafa Benitez is likely to be looking for more experienced signings to be the mainstay of his Premier League campaign, there could well be room for one or two wildcards as United will certainly need to add extra creativity to help in the top tier.