Carles Aleñá’s loan to Getafe is a domino effect, as small an effect as it may be, for the Barcelona midfield. The longer lasting impact on any of the players affected by the loan will obviously be Aleñá. The good news is that he is meeting back up with friend Marc Cucurella and will be joined by Takefusa Kubo, who cut his loan at Villarreal short to head back to a Madrid side that isn’t his parent club.

There is absolutely no secret how Pepe Bordalás wants his Getafe side to play. It’s physical, it’s defensive, and it’s not very pretty. Yet, unlike the side that stormed the castle of the Europa League spots for the last two seasons, this year’s version of Getafe is currently in 16th place, one point above Elche in 18th in the relegation zone.

Aleñá was a cog in the Real Betis machine last spring, but he was simply one of a few creative midfielders alongside Sergio Canales and Nabil Fekir. At Getafe, it’s pretty easy to see that he (and Kubo) arrive as the two most creative and tricky players in the squad. Watching Cucurella at Getafe is a reminder that the technical mastery and tactical excellence learned at La Masia can be useful for that side – as long as the defensive side of the ball is taken care of.

As I wrote last month, the worry that Aleñá is a defensive liability is overblown and without accuracy. I’ve been critical of Barcelona’s loans of the last decade, but Juan Miranda’s returns at Real Betis and success for Aleñá at Getafe could both prove to be great moves for the players and both clubs. Win-win-win loans are rare, so I celebrate them when they happen.

While Aleñá works to make his name in Madrid (gross way of saying that I know), Riqui Puig is back in Barcelona apparently sticking around this January. After recent results have vaulted the club back into third place, there is a sense that Ronald Koeman’s job is safe until the end of the season. This makes the reasons for Puig sticking around to be a bit puzzling.

Aleñá had played just five matches this season, three of which came in the Champions League group stage in matches that Puig also took part in. It’s not like Puig will be taking those minutes. Puig himself has played just four minutes of La Liga action across two matches, coming on in the dying moments against Getafe and playing as the lone midfielder in what could be best described as a 7-1-2. Don’t expect Puig to be leaving the bench anytime soon – even with Philippe Coutinho sidelined for a few months. Koeman has showed that he would rather change the formation or use less substitutes instead of playing Puig.

The name that is directly benefitting from Aleñá’s loan though is Ilaix Moriba. The 17-year-old has a birthday next week, and that milestone has been accompanied by call-ups to training and the match squad against Granada. Not to be negative, but that doesn’t mean he will feature. As I’ve spoke about before, Jandro Orellana and Nico González, his midfield partners in Pimienta’s 4-3-3, are both having better seasons than Moriba. Moriba still has the higher ceiling though, and he is getting paid like a first team player, so one does have to wonder if birthday and first team call-up being so close to one another are more contractual causation more than Aleñá loan correlation.

As Konrad de la Fuente, who has appeared in the Champions League but not La Liga, could attest, making the bench for the first team doesn’t guarantee game time. Konrad has been on the bench for nine La Liga matches without a minute played. Taking Moriba with the first team on the weekend and away from Barcelona B creates a new challenge and a solution for Pimienta. Currently, Moriba and González are still registered with Juvenil A, and until that changes potentially this month, Pimienta has been restricted in his line-up choices by only being able to use those two plus two other Juvenil A talents. By getting them registered with Barcelona B, it widens his player pool, as some Juvenil A players are already proving to be more reliable than some of Pimienta’s B players. In the meantime, if Moriba does miss matches it gives Pimienta the option to use other Juvenil A players in his place in positions of greater need.

It would be great to see Moriba make his first team debut against Granada, but don’t expect it. Same goes for seeing Puig get more minutes and Konrad making his La Liga debut. Koeman is playing with the players that have rescued the club to third place (even if they are the players that got Barcelona in that mess in the first place), so don’t expect much change. That said, the stubborn Koeman has recently switched to a 4-3-3 and with that formation change has come some of the best Frenkie de Jong we’ve even seen at Barcelona and continued excellence from Pedri. Just like with a young player’s loan, ya win some, ya lose some.

Expected line-ups:

Barcelona (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Alba, Araújo, Mingueza, Dest; Busquets, de Jong, Pedri; Dembélé, Griezmann, Messi

Granada (4-4-2): Silva; Neva, Vallejo, Sánchez, Quini; Machis, Herrera, Gonalons, Kenedy; Suárez, Soldado

Dan Hilton is an American journalist, broadcaster, and current Editor-in-Chief of BarcaBlog. Extensive work as a play-by-play broadcaster, producer behind the scenes, and quite average player in his younger years has given him a well-rounded and informative perspective on the sport. Alongside BarcaBlog founder Francesc, Dan started The Barcelona Podcast in 2017