Carles Aleñá will never forget Sunday’s 4-1 defeat of Granada. He was only on for the last five minutes a substitute for Ivan Rakitic, but it was the culmination of a process that began when he joined the U10 team at the Barça academy at the tender age of eight.

“It was very emotional” he said after making his league debut. After 12 years in the academy, this was a dream come true. I’m happy for myself, for my family and everyone who made this possible. I have waited a long time for this day.”

“And I’m very grateful to Luis Enrique. He told me to go out there and keep calm. And my team-mates helped me too. This is a day that I’ll never forget.”

Rise through the ranks

Although this was his first game in LaLiga, Aleña had previously appeared for the first team in the Copa del Rey round of 32 first leg at Hercules, where he even got to celebrate scoring the equaliser with a fine strike from outside the area.

Now aged 19, the midfielder from the town of Mataró on the Catalan coast has played at every youth level at FCB, usually as captain of his respective teams, and has also played for Spain at various age levels, being named in the team of the tournament at the European U17 Championships in 2015.

While playing against Roma for the Barça U19 team in the UEFA Youth League, he was nominated for the Puskas award for the goal of the season (see video, below) and this year has become a regular fixture in the Barça B starting XI. There could be even bigger things in store for him now!

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