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It was on 5 July 2012 that the Camp Nou welcomed home a left back charged with the mission of replacing Eric Abidal at left back. He had been part of the Barça youth system but left on a journey that would take him to Valencia via Tarragona before returning at the age of 23.
Jordi Alba was away playing at Euro 2012 when it was officially agreed that he would become the first new arrival of the Tito Vilanova era. He’d score a spectacular goal to win the trophy for Spain in a 4-0 defeat of Italy.
After making his senior Barça debut on 19 August 2012 in a 5-1 crushing of Real Sociedad, it quickly became apparent that the team had the left-back they’d been looking for, and he has made the position his own for a whole decade since.
With 429 first team appearances, he recently surpassed Guillermo Amor (421) to enter the all-time top ten, winning a host of trophies along the way, including five leagues and five cups, plus one Champions League.
Although Alba’s main role has always been to prevent rather than score goals, he is also a fundamental part of the team going forward. No defender in Europe’s top leagues has been involved in so many goals as he, scoring 23 and setting up 85 for a total of 108. He is also third in Barça’s ranking for assists since the statistic has been recorded, topped only by Leo Messi and Luis Suárez
He was particularly noted for his remarkable association with Messi. No fewer than 23 of the Argentine’s goals came thanks to passes from Alba.