Balde eyes Barcelona stay with contract talks mooted

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Barcelona defender Alejandro Balde hopes to extend his stay with the club amid a breakout campaign.

The 19-year-old has backed up a strong pre-season to become a prominent figure in Xavi's team this term.

His form across 12 LaLiga appearances – all of which were as a starter – earned him a call-up to Spain's World Cup squad last month, making four appearances in Qatar.

Now back in Barcelona ahead of LaLiga's resumption, the club are reportedly keen to tie the teenager down to a new deal, with his current contract set to expire in 2024.

Balde says his next steps are out of his hands, though he is keen to remain at Camp Nou following an encouraging start to the 2022-23 season.

"Everything is managed by my agent," he told the radio programme Que t'hi Jugues. "I want to stay here, but no one knows the future.

"If they had told me previously I would be in the first team and have played at the World Cup, though... everything has gone quickly.

"A year ago, I was in the reserves, and now I am with the first team. It's all gone very quickly, but I'm learning things fast. It's a dream."

Despite his rapid rise, Balde's inclusion in Luis Enrique's World Cup squad was a little surprising, as was that of Barca team-mate Ansu Fati.

The forward, also a product of Barca's academy, has struggled to recapture his form after suffering horribly with injuries over the past two years.

But Balde is adamant Fati will find his groove once again, adding: "We all know the quality he has. We are convinced he will give us a lot of joy."

Barcelona resume their LaLiga campaign against local rivals Espanyol on Saturday with a two-point cushion over Real Madrid at the summit of the table.