Barcelona Reportedly Open Contract Talks with Jordi Alba's Representatives

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 16, 2018

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06: Jordi Alba of FC Barcelona gestures during the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Internazionale and FC Barcelona at San Siro Stadium on November 6, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Barcelona have reportedly opened contract talks with the representatives of star left-back Jordi Alba, whose deal at the club expires in June 2020.

Sport reported the club delayed discussions over a new deal for "economic reasons" (h/t Football Espana), and Alba, 29, is said to be seeking improved terms at the Camp Nou.

Alba's contract has a €150 million (£132.8 million) release clause, and it's unclear whether that figure would rise with a new agreement.

Speculation over Alba's future has come to the forefront after he's contributed a string of star performances this season, particularly during Lionel Messi's absence.

The former Valencia man has always been considered an attacking outlet in his position, but OptaJose illustrated that reputation has been taken to new heights in 2018-19:

OptaJose @OptaJose

6 - No other defender from the top five European leagues has made more assists than @FCBarcelona’s Jordi Alba this season in all competitions (level with Borussia Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi). Bullet. https://t.co/RzAMzKSwWk

Messi was sidelined for several weeks after fracturing the radial bone in his right arm, missing back-to-back UEFA Champions League meetings against Inter Milan and league games against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano.

The Blaugrana went unbeaten in those four matches, and Alba stepped up his offensive contribution, as he scored in the first clash with Inter before supplying assists in the wins over Real and Rayo.

Tuttosport recently reported Juventus were considering Alba and Benfica's Alex Grimaldo as alternatives to Real Madrid left-back Marcelo (h/t Sport), with the Italians seemingly intent on replacing Alex Sandro.

Barca recruited Alba from Los Che in June 2012. The defender signed his latest contract three-and-a-half years ago and presumably feels those terms are outdated.

Alba is also back in the plans of Spain manager Luis Enrique, his former coach at the Camp Nou. He recently assured the press he's always gotten along with the tactician after returning to the fold, as Omnisport shared:

Omnisport @OmnisportNews

Jordi Alba is back in the Spain squad... And the Barcelona full-back insists he never fell out with boss Luis Enrique. #FCBlive https://t.co/dQrQFC6Qeb

He played the whole 90 minutes in Thursday's 3-2 defeat to Croatia in the UEFA Nations League, his first international appearance since Spain bowed out in the 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16.

Juventus' interest is one potential obstacle in Barca's quest to see Alba renew his terms in Catalonia. However, it's said Barca hope to secure his loyalties before the "decisive stretch of the season," meaning any suitors could be left behind as negotiations get underway.