Unai Emery believes former Valencia protege Jordi Alba will flourish at Barcelona as they are a team renowned for their use of wing-backs.
The 40-year-old coach was previously credited for transforming Alba into a left-back rather than a midfielder during his time at the club and he feels this versatility will now work in the Spanish international’s favour when he joins the Catalan club.
“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],” Emery said.
“With Valencia in La Liga and the Champions League and Spain in the European Championship he has had to play against the best midfielders in the world and is growing with every game.”
However, Emery revealed that it had not always been plain-sailing to get the 23-year-old playing in a more defensive role.
“We decided [to play Jordi at left-back] during the course of a Champions League match against Werder Bremen,” he said.
“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.
“Everything has to be put into working order and with Jordi we had to start from zero in terms of defensive concepts.
“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.”