Álex Grimaldo: The ex-Barcelona prodigy tipped to replace Monreal at Arsenal

Arsenal has been linked with a move for Alex Grimaldo – but who is the Benfica left-back?

The former Barcelona youth player has impressed since moving to the Portuguese league in 2016, and the Gunners are reportedly keeping an eye on the 23-year-old as a replacement for ageing Nacho Monreal.

A product of Barca’s La Masia, Grimaldo actually started his youth career at Valencia before switching to the Catalan giants in 2008, then aged just 13.

He progressed superbly through the ranks before making his debut for Barcelona’s B team in September 2011, becoming the youngest ever player to feature in the Segunda Division (Spain’s second tier) in the process at the age of 15 years and 349 days.

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Grimaldo joined Benfica in early 2016, and made his debut in the Portuguese Cup in shortly afterwards, before debuting in the league in February in 2017. Since then, the Spanish youth international has grown in leaps and bounds.

The 23-year-old has now made over 100 appearances across all competitions, scoring nine and assisting 14. Majority of that tally came this term, with seven strikes, lacing five for teammates in 37 games.

Similar to left-back Jordi Alba in stature, Grimaldo is the archetypal modern full-back. His main strength lies in his ability to attack. Comfortable in possession, he knows how to pick out a pass. He is also an excellent crosser of the ball and is also handy from set-pieces.

Grimaldo has featured at several youth levels for Spain and has won two caps so far for the under-21 side. He has been called up to their squad for the upcoming internationals.

Arsenal reportedly sent scouts to watch the Spaniard. Although tied to the club till the summer of 2021, the Gunners could sway Benfica to do business earlier. A fee in the region of £30m would be enough.

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