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Barcelona sign Manchester United target Jordi Alba for 14 million Euros

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FC Barcelona have signed left-back Jordi Alba from Valencia for a fee of 14 million Euros. A product of Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, Alba joined Valencia in 2005, and has gradually made the left back spot his own.

He has been an integral part of the Valencia side that has achieved third place in La Liga for the past three seasons. The 23-year-old is new boss Tito Vilanova's first signing, and will play in Eric Abidal's position after the latter retired last season after ongoing health issues. It is after a long time that Barcelona have decided to bolster their defence, with Javier Mascherano being forced to play in the centre of defence due to lack of cover.

Alba is the current first-choice left back for Spain at Euro 2012, and has been a revelation due to his speed and crossing ability. His foray down the left flank and a wonderful cross to Xabi Alonso during the quarter-final with France led to the first goal, despite France playing two defenders to protect that flank.

Bara announced the player's signing on their official website: "FC Barcelona can announce that it has reached an agreement today with Valencia CF for the transfer of player Jordi Alba, pending the player's medical examination when he comes to the city of Barcelona next week. The operation will cost 14 million euros and he will sign a contract for the next five seasons."

The website also describes him as "the archetypal wing back, with a number of virtues". Alba is "quick and skilful, and likes to support the forwards, making life hell for right backs with his lightning runs up the flank."

Alba was very happy that he was returning to the club where he started his career, and was quoted saying: "It has been a double satisfaction for me: qualifying for the Euro final with Spain and now the confirmation of my transfer to Barça."

The news will come as a huge blow to Manchester United, who were also keen on signing the youngster, but his strong Catalan roots meant that he was always going to choose Barcelona ahead of the Red Devils.