- 15 March
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Barcelona players on loan: How Alena, Todibo and Co. are performing
Barcelona are currently going through a tough time both on and off the pitch, with their title challenging hinging on slumps in form from Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
When Ronald Koeman was appointed as head coach following the embarrassing Champions League elimination at the hands of Bayern last year, he was tasked with a squad overhaul, which included telling veteran stars Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic their services were no longer required.
Barca subsequently had a trimmed down squad, which has led to few players being sent out on loan – at least compared to most other elite clubs in Europe.
Some, however, have completely relatively high-profile temporary moves, so how are they faring?
Unfortunately for Carles Alena, one of the positions that Barcelona don’t find themselves short of players in is central midfield.
Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Miralem Pjanic, Pedri and even Riqui Puig are all ahead of Alena in the pecking order for a place in the three-man midfield at the moment, which led to Koeman sanctioning a loan move to Getafe in January in order to aid the 23-year-old’s development.
Even at the age of 23, it doesn’t seem like Alena has had a fair crack at things at the Camp Nou, but time is running out for him to make an impression so he better make the minutes at Getafe count.
Since his switch in January of 2021, he has done reasonably well, starting six games, scoring once and assisting twice in that time.
It does seem to be one step forward and two steps back for Alena, though, as he recently went four games in a row without starting, only to come off the bench in the fourth to score his first goal for Getafe.
He was restored to the starting XI for an away game at Real Valladolid, but Getafe ended up losing 2-1.
Jean-Clair Todibo spent the first half of the season at Benfica where he made exactly zero appearances in the league, with head coach Jorge Jesus saying of the central defender before a Europa League fixture earlier in the season: “Todibo will not be there. He has no physical or tactical conditions. He has not worked with the team. He is not one of the players I am thinking of.”
After those scathing words, Todibo eventually returned to Barcelona before being shipped out again, this time to Nice.
He has performed much, much better in Ligue 1 than he did in Portugal, making six starts already for Nice.
Todibo looks to be back close to his best and has formed a decent partnership with Arsenal loanee William Saliba in the centre of defence for the Ligue 1 outfit.
Head coach Adrian Ursea said of the pair: “Despite their young age, they bring a lot of personality and control, and it affects the stability of the team.
“A defender must first know how to defend, and both do. But we want to start our attacks from the defence, and Todibo and Saliba give us peace of mind in this. We try to take advantage of it because what we can do in the last 30 metres depends on how we use the ball from our defence.”
The ownership of Emerson remains a complicated one as both Betis and Barcelona had a hand in acquiring him from Atletico Mineiro.
Both clubs paid part of his €12.7 million fee, with Barcelona holding the right to sign him outright for a further €6m.
He is yet to play a single game for the Blaugrana but has impressed at Betis, making 57 starts in La Liga across two-and-a-half seasons so far.
With Barcelona having acquired Sergino Dest in the summer, and with Sergi Roberto still considered a right-back, it remains unlikely he will return to the Camp Nou with any hopes of breaking into the first team.
Moussa Wague has a reputation for being a swashbuckling right-back, but the problem is he really hasn’t had the opportunity to show it.
At 22-years-old, he has been on the scene a while now, but hasn’t made more than five starts in a single season since his last campaign at Eupen in 2016/17, when he featured in the starting XI on 13 occasions.
He previously spent a short period at Nice where he made just two Ligue 1 starts, and has been on loan at PAOK, where he has made four.
However, his time at PAOK was ravaged by injury. Indeed, in December he suffered a knee injury that would put him out for the season.
He has since returned to Barcelona.
Last season Juan Miranda went out on loan to Schalke and made 11 appearances in the Bundesliga.
For the 2020/21 campaign, he has returned to Real Betis, having featured for them as a youngster before moving to the Barcelona academy.
He has been solid, not spectacular, in his stint at the Benito Villamarin, having started 10 games so far in La Liga. He shares the duties at left-back with Alex Moreno.
Any other loans?
Central midfielder Monchu is on loan at Girona, while Sergio Akieme is at Almeria.