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    Balde eyes Barcelona stay with contract talks mooted

    Barcelona defender Alejandro Balde is looking to extend his stay at the club amid a breakout campaign.

    The 19-year-old had a strong pre-season and has become a prominent figure in Xavi’s team this season.

    His form in 12 La Liga appearances, all of which were in the starting line-up, earned him a call-up to Spain’s World Cup squad last month when he made four appearances in Qatar.

    Back at Barcelona ahead of La Liga’s resumption, the club are reportedly looking to tie the teenager to a new deal, with his current contract expiring in 2024.

    Balde says his next steps are not up to him, although he is keen to stay at the Camp Nou after an encouraging start to the 2022/23 season.

    “My agent manages everything,” he told the radio program Que t’hi Jugues. “I want to stay here, but no one knows the future.

    “If I had been told earlier that I would have been in the first team and played in the World Cup, although … everything went quickly.

    “A year ago I was in the reserves, and now I am in the first team. Everything went very quickly, but I’m a fast learner. It’s a dream.”

    Despite his rapid rise, Balde’s inclusion in Luis Enrique’s World Cup squad was a bit of a surprise, as was the inclusion of his Barça teammate Ansu Fati.

    The striker, also a graduate of the Barça academy, has struggled to recover from horrific injuries over the past two years.

    But Balde is adamant that Fati will find his rhythm again, adding: “We all know what qualities he has. We are convinced that he will bring us much joy.”

    Barcelona will resume their La Liga campaign against local rivals Espanyol on Saturday, two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

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