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“Best player of all time”: Former Barcelona defender names Lionel Messi as his role model

When the going gets tough, Barcelona tends to seamlessly rely upon young talents emerging from La Masia to plug holes in the first team.

This formula has been tried and tested considerably over the years and has especially taken precedent this season, with an array of homegrown youngsters marking their influence with the senior squad.

However, the journey to the first team is not always a smooth sailing one. Had Barça not been embroiled in a financial and injury crisis, it is not a far fetch to claim minutes for most of the academy prospects would have been scarce.

Indeed, former La Masia graduates have been obliged to often hit the exit door when there is excessive competition in the first team.

And one of the players who can attest to that information is Alejandro Grimaldo, who departed Barcelona for Benfica back in 2016 to acquire greater game-time.

Now plying his trade for Bayer Leverkusen and considered one of the best left-backs in European football, Grimaldo gave an interview to Fabrizio Romano, touching upon various topics related to the world of football.

Grimaldo’s childhood idol was Messi

The greatest of all time. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

When asked who was his childhood idol, the 28-year-old fanboyed over Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, who similar to him, graduated from the club’s factory of talents, La Masia.

The Argentine World Cup winner is a reference for many players coming through the Catalans’ academy ranks and it was not much different for Grimaldo either.

“My childhood idol is Messi. For me, he is the best player of all time. I grew up in La Masía watching him play in the first team,” he claimed.

Links last summer

Before joining Bayer Leverkusen as a free agent, Grimaldo was a man in demand, with the talented full-back linked with an array of top clubs.

The rumour mill frequently linked him with his former club, Barcelona. When asked if there were contacts with any clubs last summer, including Barcelona, Grimaldo acknowledged:

“There were contacts with several teams, with teams from the Spanish league, the Premier League and even the French league.

“But I think in the end the most important thing for me in this step was to go to a team where the coach believes in you and then the project as well.”

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