Grimaldo, Xabi Alonso’s gunman at the service of La Roja

During his time in Barcelona’s youth ranks, he became known as the best left-back project. However, an overdose of players in his position, in which Jordi Alba stood out, the skepticism of Luis Enrique when he led the first team and some acts of indiscipline made Alejandro Grimaldo (Valencia, 1995) leave Can Barça, where he arrived at an age. child, to have minutes in the elite. He did it at Benfica (303 games, 19 goals, 51 assists and 9 titles) during the last eight seasons, being one of the flagships of the team that marveled last year in the Champions League, and now at Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen , with which its big explosion is coming.

Decisive in the ‘Xabineta’ gear, he is one of the pillars of the Bundesliga leader, a team that has not yet bowed its knee so far this season after 17 games played in all competitions, and that on the field of game has established the best historical start of the German competition, surpassing Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich. The aspirin club is the biggest surprise in European football with the permission of Míchel’s Girona.

Versatile, associative, and with a cannon on his left leg, the footballer who dazzled in Paterna before his foray into La Masia, is, at 28 years old, the fittest player in the world in his position, and his great performance has He was finally rewarded with his first call-up to Luis de la Fuente’s Spanish team, who opted for him to the detriment of Balde. «I am in the best moment of my career. I have found, both physically and mentally, football maturity. I have big goals like going to the national team and winning big titles in the future,” said the footballer in an interview in March, when he was still playing with the Da Luz eagles, and where he longed to wear the La Roja jersey.

A national team that after the last World Cup required a review, that in recent months has maintained the search for alternatives and plans based on the enemy, and that has in the Valencian, in full maturity, a long-term gunfighter who gives off the aroma of best Gareth Bale for the wing, whether as a full-back, interior or winger, as well as an excellent free-kick taker. Eight goals and five assists so far this season make him ‘mainstream’ on the eastern bank of the Rhine and throughout the Old Continent.

Grimaldo has scored four of those goals from outside the area, the last one this past weekend to open the rout (4-0) against Unión Berlin, being the player in the five major European leagues who has done so on the most occasions. In his last five seasons, 50% of his 22 goals came from beyond the edge of the box, 27% of which came from direct free kicks. A set-piece precision that is not the result of chance. “I’ve been working on it for years,” he noted on his club’s website. «I have everything thought out and practiced. I know where and how to hit. “I take three and a half steps, I analyze quickly and hit it, because I know where I want the ball to go,” the defender elaborated.

A block for Euro 2024

«At Leverkusen they play with a different idea but he is a footballer who can adapt to many functions. I know his potential. As a winger, he is what we will use him for, but he offers us many options and possibilities,” De la Fuente confessed days ago, who said he already had a very formed block for next summer’s Euro Cup in German lands.

The Valencian will have the opportunity to make his debut for Spain this Thursday against Cyprus or on Sunday against Georgia. None of these teams are eligible to play in the European Championship, but La Roja, although it is already classified, has at stake the first place in the group that would place it in pot 1 of the calendar draw, on December 2 in Hamburg.

So far, his time through the different categories of the national team has been residual. He has played two games with the U-16, eight with the U-17, nine with the U-19 and only two with the U-21. In fact, his last commitment with the colors of Spain was on September 1, 2016 against San Marino in a qualifying match for the U21 Euro Cup.

The footballer acknowledges in statements to the Bundesliga that he takes great care of ‘invisible training’, what is done when one is not training: recovery, rest, and above all, diet, where what is known as intermittent fasting stands out. «My first meal is at two in the afternoon. Then the second at eight. And I don’t eat again until two in the afternoon. He doesn’t eat pasta, rice or bread. Only eat proteins, fish and meat. And lots of vegetables.

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