What does Carles Aleñá need to do for his Real Betis loan to be a success?

Carles Aleñá to Real Betis
Carles Aleñá is on the move to Real Betis on loan

As expected, 21-year-old Carles Aleñá is the first player on the move for FC Barcelona in the January transfer window. His move is a loan without an option to buy; a move that the current board has been reluctant to utilize with recent loan deals.

Aleñá played 260 minutes for Ernesto Valverde this season in five games. After a less than impressive forty-five minutes in the opening game of the La Liga season against Athletic Bilbao, Aleñá didn’t see the field again until December for a cameo against Mallorca. Since then, it appears that the club was shopping him by giving him time against Inter Milan, Real Sociedad and Deportivo Alavés.

Real Betis has been rumored as his destination for quite some time now, and it could be beneficial to both the player and his new club.

Midfield Competition

Aleñá joins a midfield that has been in flux this season. It’s hard to tell how many midfielders Rubi needs from game to game; so far this season he’s used four different formations – 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1, and 3-4-2-1. Sergio Canales, Nabil Fekir, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Andrés Guardado, Javi García, and William Carvalho are the other midfield choices, though Guardado, García, and Carvalho are all the more defensive options. Fekir and Canales have also seen time on the wing opposite Joaquín. Depending on what Rubi has in mind, Aleñá’s profile could suit the squad nicely. Even if the Spaniard can’t break into the XI consistently, he should still be a necessary player off the bench.

Offensive Contribution

Aleñá shouldn’t be expected to contribute goals, though a few assists are possible. Three goals and no assists in 39 appearances for Barcelona’s first team isn’t a good indication of what he can achieve in Andalusia. Just because he may not score goals and provide the final pass, his time at the club could still be important. Unlike Barcelona, who have Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez to knock in goals, Aleñá may be asked to put the ball in the net to help out strikers Loren Morón and expensive arrival Borja Iglesias, who have a combined ten goals.

Ready to Return

The most important part of the loan is getting on the field. Clearly the talent is there, but he does need minutes to tap into it. With Arturo Vidal seemingly forcing his way out of the club and Ivan Rakitic’s future apparently already decided, Aleñá could become an essential player next season – but only if he comes back ready to take on additional responsibility. Unlike Sergi Samper to Granada or some of the other loans that didn’t seem to be a good fit on paper, Aleñá has a decent opportunity to find a new temporary home at Real Betis.