5 Things Barcelona's Jordi Alba Must Do to Improve His Game in 2014/15 Season

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2014

5 Things Barcelona's Jordi Alba Must Do to Improve His Game in 2014/15 Season

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Jordi Alba began his youth career at Barcelona’s famous La Masia before eventually leaving Catalonia to join Valencia. After developing more as a footballer, his boyhood home eventually came calling, and it came as no surprise when the left-back made his return to the Camp Nou in the summer of 2012.

    Since then, Alba has been the first choice left-back for La Blaugrana and has been a part of some truly amazing performances. However, he is not without his faults and still has a long way to go if he is to be considered one of the best in the world at his position.

    While it is true that Alba is an immensely talented player, there is room for improvement. If he is able to add more to his game, it could pay off big time for the Catalan giants.

    In this article we will take a look at five ways that Alba can improve his game this season, as well as discussing what that could mean for Barcelona as a whole.

    As always, feel free to get involved in the discussion in the comment section below and let us know what you believe must be done for the 25-year-old to step his game up this year.

Make Defending His Top Priority

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    No one can doubt Jordi Alba’s ability to make an impact offensively. His love of getting forward and joining the attack makes him very dangerous, and he's quite the expert at overlapping plays.

    Alba, who spent most of his early career as a winger, is most comfortable when streaking down the left flank and using his pace to pull defenders out of position.

    All of that makes Barcelona even more dangerous offensively, but it has also cost the Catalans badly on the other side of the ball.

    Because of his constant desire to attack and venture forward, Alba often leaves his defensive duties to be handled by others and can be caught out of position by opponents. If he wants to continue improving as a footballer, that can’t happen anymore.

    Despite his keen attacking abilities, Alba is still first and foremost a defender, and that means he must make defending his first priority. He cannot continue to rely on his speed to make up for his errors; every now and then the mistakes are just too great.

    Perhaps Alba needs to learn how to properly time his runs and drift back when the ball is spread to the other side of the field. Maybe Luis Enrique needs to give him limits of when he is allowed to get forward.

    Regardless, he will never take that next step as a footballer until he learns the importance of defending. He has had some big moments in the Blaugrana shirt, but not many of those have come with him making a big tackle.

Tone Down the Attitude

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    Those who watch Jordi Alba on a regular basis will be all too aware of the fact that the Barcelona defender has a bit of an attitude problem. It is common to see him lash out at least once per game, and at times it is certainly over the top.

    For Alba to take his game to the next level this season, he needs to lose the attitude and learn how to be a calmer footballer.

    Throughout the history of football, players with attitudes have been entertaining to watch and sometimes even stars. But the most respected players in the game have always been those who can keep a calm head and stay collected in the heat of battle.

    Alba’s attitude and tendency to be hotheaded is a problem waiting to happen. While he doesn’t see as many bookings as his attitude would suggest, it doesn’t mean his tantrums are justified.

    When it comes to defending, a bad attitude and anger issues are never a good thing. Alba must mature as a player if he is going to improve this season, and everything will begin with how he handles tough calls and difficult situations.

Get Healthy and Stay Healthy

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    Calling Jordi Alba an injury-prone player would be a bit of a stretch, but the claim is not far off. Since joining Barcelona, the defender has missed more than his fair share of games with minor injuries that always seem to keep coming back.

    Perhaps Alba is just unlucky, or maybe he doesn’t take proper care of his body. Either way, the left-back misses too many games each season to keep improving.

    For a player to grow and become better, he has to play. With Alba in and out of the lineup so often, it is no wonder why he can be hit or miss when he does get a start in the back line.

    Saying that a player needs to get healthy and stay healthy is a difficult thing to ask for. In most cases, players have no control over when they get hurt and how often that happens.

    Yet, in the case of Jordi Alba, the 25-year-old needs to realize that he is picking up injuries too often and take the appropriate steps to address the issue. It could be something as simple as going a bit easier in practice or relaxing off the pitch in the right way.

    If Alba is actually able to put his injuries behind him, he will have a much better chance of growing as a footballer at Barcelona.

Find Consistency

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    Sticking with the concept of missing action, Alba may very well be Barcelona’s most inconsistent and unpredictable player in the squad. In one match he can be absolutely stunning, and the next game he could make defensive errors that cost the Catalans dearly.

    Again, this could come from not being a mainstay in the lineup; however, it is something that Alba must gain control over.

    When it comes to consistency, the biggest problem for many players tends to be their focus. When players lose focus, their performance drops and their standards are lowered.

    Due to the fact that Barcelona plays in three major competitions every year, and the fact that injuries keep him off the field too much, it makes sense that Alba could be distracted at times.

    No matter what the reason is, Alba must be more consistent if he is going to become a better footballer. He cannot afford to be hit or miss at this point in his career, and Barcelona can’t just sit back and hope that he shows up on a particular night.

    Alba’s inconsistency may also stem from his attitude problems, which should also be addressed as we mentioned earlier. It is clear that Alba must learn how to focus more and play at a high level on a regular basis. Doing so will help him grow as a player, and it will certainly help the Catalans remain one of the best clubs on the planet.

Learn What It Means to Be a Leader

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    Taking a quick look around the footballing world immediately shows how important leadership is for clubs and players. The best players to ever kick a ball were also tremendous leaders on and off the pitch.

    As Jordi Alba enters the prime of his career, it is time for him to learn what it means to be a leader.

    To this point in his Barcelona career, Alba has been a supporting-cast player. While the likes of Lionel Messi and Xavi have run the show over the past few seasons, the 25-year-old has been right there to follow along.

    With a defense that has changed a lot since last year, both Alba and Barcelona could benefit from the left-back becoming more of a leader in the team. He understands the system and knows what it means to wear the Barcelona shirt, and that also means that he should understand how to set the right example for those around him.

    Being a leader is definitely not something that is just handed to someone. Players have to earn the right to be seen as a leader, as well as the respect of trust of their managers.

    If Alba truly wants to become an even better player, he also has to become a better leader and role model for those around him. He should be entering the best time of his footballing career, and now is the time he starts playing like it.

    Some players are simply not cut out to be leaders, and that is totally fine. Yet when it comes to Jordi Alba, this season is when the Camp Nou faithful find out just what the left-back is really made of.

     

    What must Jordi Alba do to step his game up this season? Can he become a leader at Barcelona? Leave your thoughts and comments below!