Neymar’s departure and the appointment of Ernesto Valverde as coach have each contributed to Jordi Alba re-finding his finest type this season, the Barcelona defender has advised Diario Sport.
Alba, 28, was left on the bench for a few of Barca’s largest video games final season, together with the 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain within the Champions League, as Luis Enrique switched to a three-man defence.
Valverde’s return to a again 4 has seen him win his place again within the workforce, although, whereas Neymar’s €222 million world report transfer to PSG has allowed him to flourish.
“Neymar leaving had a big effect on the squad,” Alba stated. “He was a beloved, charismatic participant, however the workforce has been capable of overcome his departure. Neymar is a superb participant, however he determined to depart.
“Ultimately, there are individuals that are not right here and people which can be right here can do completely nicely. I am delighted with the squad. Now I’ve extra of the wing to assault and for me, truthfully, it is rather a lot higher. I am having fun with myself like I have not for a very long time.
“I’ve recovered my confidence. Now I’ve the entire flank and that is good for me. I really feel comfy, I’ve numerous power and that is being proven on the pitch.”
Barca are at the moment on a 16-game unbeaten run and Alba has performed in 12 of these matches, establishing 5 objectives — 4 for Lionel Messi. He was rested for the win in opposition to Eibar in September and missed three video games just lately with a minor damage.
And Alba says it has enabled him to get pleasure from his soccer for the primary time in a protracted whereas beneath the brand new supervisor.
“I do not like to match managers however what I can say about Valverde is that I am delighted with him and with the entire teaching setup,” Alba added.
“The work [they do] is de facto good and so is the communication with the gamers. And In defence, we have gained rather a lot with Valverde. We have not conceded many objectives and that is as a result of we’re extra compact.”
Midfielder Sergio Busquets stated this week that Barca aren’t taking part in “good” soccer and Alba agreed that there is nonetheless room for enchancment in some areas regardless of the spectacular outcomes, which have them 4 factors clear on the high of La Liga.
“We wish extra, you may all the time enhance,” he stated. “However these fantastic years when everybody drooled over Barca cannot be repeated just because the gamers are completely different.”
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Observe him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.