Barcelona announced the signing of right-sided player Aleix Vidal for €18 million from Europa League champions Sevilla yesterday. On the surface, this deal sounds very much like a rather typical transfer, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding Dani Alves’ future at the newly-crowned Champions League winners. However, taking a closer look at the career of 25-year old Vidal paints a somewhat different and incredibly intriguing picture.
Born just under 100km outside of Camp Nou, the Spaniard has an obvious connection to Barcelona and the region. Talented as a youngster, Vidal spent parts of his youth career playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid, although it never seemed as though, he would be called up to the first team of a big club. After playing for eight different clubs across his youth career, the man who was recently called up to the Spain squad, returned to Barcelona, when he joined Espanyol, where he eventually made his senior debut, playing for the B team. Having only made two appearances for the latter and without the prospect of playing for the first team, the youngster was first loaned out to Greek Super League newcomers Panthrakikos FC and then joined Spanish fourth-tier club CF Pobla de Mafumet.
Several other transfers across Spain’s lower tiers followed and by 2014, aged 24, Vidal had played for 14 clubs, six of which at senior level. The turning point in Vidal’s career arguably came in 2011, when he joined second-tier side Almeria, with whom he eventually achieved promotion and played his first full La Liga season during the 2013/14 campaign, when he made 38 appearances, scoring six goals in the process. His good performances alerted Sevilla, who were keen to reinforce their right wing, and the Andalusian club decided to purchase him for a fee of €3 million in 2014. Vidal had an impressive year at Sevilla and played as a winger, as well as a right back, producing great performances, the pick of which would have to be the Europa League semi-final first leg against Fiorentina, when, playing as a right-back, he scored two and assisted the other goal in Sevilla’s 3-0 victory. This game would have been an eye-opener for Barcelona who always operate with extremely attack-minded full-backs like Jordi Alba and Dani Alves.
Aleix Vidal now joins the Blaugrana in a deal that gives Sevilla a great return on their €3 million investment and Barcelona a genuine replacement for Dani Alves who is yet to decide his future, although with this transfer, Vidal might have done this on the Brazilian’s behalf. At 25, Aleix Vidal arrives at the biggest club of the world after a career that looked like over before it began. We can expect more to come from this player and believe that he will be success after his return to Catalonia.