Barcelona fullback Jordi Alba has aired his shock at Zinedine Zidane’s return to Clasico rivals Real Madrid so soon after walking away from the club.
Zidane surprisingly stepped down as Madrid head coach after guiding the Spanish giants to a third consecutive Champions League title last season.
However, Zidane was re-appointed on Monday, following Santiago Solari’s sacking after Madrid’s European rout at the hands of Ajax, and with the team 12 points behind Barca in La Liga.
Asked about Zidane’s return after Barca crushed Lyon 5-1 to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, Alba was surprised.
‘Real Madrid went out, being the favourite in theory,’ Alba told said in the mixed zone on Spanish radio.
‘But Ajax were better in the two matches and deserved to beat them.
‘I was surprised by the return of Zidane to Real Madrid. It’s not normal for a coach to return after nine months.’
While Zidane’s teams dominated in Europe, the 46-year-old head coach could only guide Madrid to one domestic title during his tenure.
Barcelona lifted the La Liga trophy three times in that period, an accomplishment for which Alba believes Ernesto Valverde’s side are not given credit.
‘What Barcelona do is given little value in some parts of Spain,’ he added.
‘I don’t think that everybody fails to value us, but in a bad season you all know that they’d have given it to us from all sides.
‘I think they don’t give us all the credit that is deserved. I’m not just talking about this year, but about all years.’
Alba should get plenty of opportunities to try and earn that respect, as he recently committed to a new contract with Barca until 2024.
He said after penning the deal: ‘I have never seen myself outside of Barcelona, since I have been at Barca it’s my dream [to stay].
‘As the years have passed I have kept growing and I notice the affection from the fans even more. I have always seen myself in Barcelona and my dream is to retire here.
‘It’s obvious that my dream is to stay at Barcelona. It’s cost too much to get here to then have to leave.
‘I have my family here, their support, the fans and my teammates. I don’t think I’d be happier anywhere else.’
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