Rumoured Manchester United target Carles Alena continues to be linked with a move away from Barcelona, but who is the youngster that could become the next teenage superstar nurtured by the famed Camp Nou academy? We list five facts about the player dubbed 'the new Andres Iniesta'.
The 18-year-old has attracted attention for the rapid nature in his development as he swiftly moves through the various youth teams at the Catalan giants and has already been called-up to the senior squad to occupy a place on the bench whenever Lionel Messi has been injured. Reports in Spain and beyond indicate that manager Luis Enrique trusts the player to deliver should he end up featuring for the first-team on a regular, or even semi-regular basis.
Alena claims that Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta, as well as renowned Brazil forward Rivaldo, are key inspirations to his own playing style but acknowledges that in order to become a more well-rounded footballer he must work on the defensive part of his game: "My weak point is defending," Alena is quoted to have said. "It's tough for me as a more attacking player."
Alena, 18, claims Rivaldo is an inspiration to his playing style. (Getty Images)
Alena can think quickly on the pitch, he has an unparalled football IQ and has a low centre of balance meaning he is mobile and agile on the field. His best position is as a number 'eight' in a 4-3-3 and could therefore become a natural heir to the throne long vacated by Paul Scholes.
Considered a pass master, Alena would be comfortable dictacting the flow of play through to the more attack-minded players in front of him but he is also an extremely competent striker of the football and is particularly lethal from just outside of the penalty box. He will also look to take control of set-pieces and is exceptional at delivering corners, as well as free-kicks.
Jose Mourinho is allegedly scouring the market for midfielders and, according to reports, is keen on acquiring Alena, a player who could well be lured by the higher wages on offer by Premier League clubs, following the likes of Hector Bellerin out of La Masia and into the higher echelons of English football.