Barcelona starlet Carles Alena reportedly had a potential loan move to Real Betis in the summer transfer window blocked by manager Ernesto Valverde.

As per a report from Spanish publication MARCA, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde blocked academy graduate Carles Alena’s loan move to fellow La Liga outfit Real Betis in the recently concluded transfer window.

The 21-year-old Alena is a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy and has been tipped as one of the brightest talents to have come through the youth ranks in recent years. The midfielder made his first-team debut back in November 2016 under then manager Luis Enrique, but it wasn’t until the last season that he was properly integrated into the senior side.

During the 2018-19 campaign, Alena featured 27 times for the Catalans across all competitions, bagging 2 goals in the process. While his performances lacked consistency at times, the Spanish U21 international showed enough evidence to merit his spot in Ernesto Valverde’s squad.

However, following the summer acquisition of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax, the Barcelona midfield department has clearly become a little bloated in numbers. Along with the Dutch sensation, the reigning La Liga champions also have Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur Melo, Arturo Vidal and Sergi Roberto to call upon, along with Alena himself.

Alena's loan move to Real Betis was blocked by manager Valverde (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Alena’s loan move to Real Betis was blocked by manager Valverde (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Naturally, there would have been questions in the youngster’s mind about his playing time heading into the new season. Alena did start Barcelona’s opening game against Athletic Bilbao, but was whisked off at half-time after a poor showing and has since not made it to the matchday squad for the Catalans’ subsequent fixtures against Real Betis and Osasuna.

This had opened up the possibility of the young midfielder being loaned out for the rest of the season late in the summer transfer window. And as per the report from MARCA, Real Betis were keen on taking Alena off Barcelona’s hands.

Los Verdiblancos manager Rubi knows Alena very well from his Barcelona coaching days and was keen on working with the youngster. The 21-year-old himself was seriously entertaining the offer at hand as it would likely have led to more playing minutes for him, than he is likely to get at his parent club this season.

However, as per the report, Barcelona manager pulled the plug on the loan deal. The former Athletic Bilbao boss, despite having left the youngster out in the last two games, considers him a part of the plans moving forward and hence decided to intervene and block his loan exit to Betis.

While a loan move could have proved beneficial for Alena, the faith that Valverde has shown in him by keeping him at the club in spite of a disappointing display in the season opener should come as a shot of confidence in the arm. But, it remains to be seen how much the manager uses him as the season progresses.

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