Emery: Alba was originally a winger

Former Valencia coach Unai Emery believes that Jordi Alba will fit in perfectly at new club Barcelona, especially as he originally was an attacking midfielder.

Football News: Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi

By ESPNSTAR.com staff

The Catalan club confirmed the capture of the Spanish international for a fee of €14 million last week. Many observers believe that Alba would operate well as an attacking full-back complimenting Daniel Alves who plays in a similar capacity down the right flank. 

The former Valencia defender played every minute of Spain's succesful Euro 2012 campaign and demonstrated strong attacking and defensive skills. He was tasked with taking care of Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain's semi-final match against Portugal and later impressed as a marauding full-back in the final against the Italians nabbing a goal in the game.

Emery spoke about his former player and revealed that Alba had initially been training as a midfielder and it was only by accident that he was forced to make the switch to defence during a Champions League match between Valencia and Werder Bremen. 

"We decided [to play Jordi at left-back] during the course of a Champions League match against Werder Bremen," he told Spanish daily AS.

"Bruno [Saltor] was injured and we first put Miguel at left-back, but it ended up with Jordi and there he remained.

"He was reluctant to play in a position further back. We had [David] Silva, Vicente, [Juan] Mata, but above all there were his qualities.

"Jordi went from not wanting to play as a full-back to not wanting to play as a midfielder.

"When, in games against Barcelona, we announced the line-up and told [Jeremy] Mathieu he had to play as a midfielder, Jordi felt relieved."

The manager gave his backing to his former player and pointed out that Alba's diligence in learning the necessary traits required to succeed as a defender demonstrates his tenacity and willingness to adapt. 

"Everything had to be put into working order and with Jordi we had to start from zero in terms of defensive concepts," he confessed.

"The credit for the explosion of Jordi is solely with him. It is, above all, in his capacity for work and his desire to grow and learn.

"He is more than ready for any challenge.

"Also the style of Barcelona is perfect, because it is a team made of attacking defenders and of course the best ability of Jordi is [going forward]."

With long-serving French defender Eric Abidal taking a sabbatical due to illness, Barca employed Carles Puyol as a left-back with Javier Mascherano trained as Gerard Pique's partner over the preceding season. Alba should help restore the balance with captain Puyol likely to retake his place in the centre of defence in the upcoming season. 

Alba will be officially unveiled as a Barcelona player on Thursday and was recently selected as part of Spain's squad for the upcoming London Olympics. 

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