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Meet the Scot who turned down Barcelona - aged nine

Daily Record logoDaily Record 23/12/2016 Fraser Wilson

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Not many people can say they turned down a deal with Barcelona - especially a NINE-YEAR-OLD.

But that’s exactly the fate which befell Scottish youngster Alejandro Maroto who knocked back the La Liga giants this year to continue his football education in Scotland.

Alejandro - or Ale to his class mates in Ralston - was offered a year-long training place at the Nou Camp after catching the eye of talent spotters at a tournament in Majorca.

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The primary school kid was initially invited over for a week-long trial at Barca’s legendary La Masia training academy, famed for producing an endless list of superstars like Fabregas, Iniesta and, of course, Lionel Messi.

And the talented young midfielder, who moved to Scotland from Majorca with his family when he was four, impressed enough during that April stint that he was invited back.

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But Alejandro’s family then faced one of the hardest decisions ever when the offer of a year-long placement at the Academy dropped through the door.

His dad, Juan, said: “It was a horrible decision to make but we just couldn’t uproot the family as, under FIFA rules, children under the age of 12 have to live within an hour of the club.

“We are settled in Scotland but that didn’t make it any easier to tell Alejandro who had his heart set on this opportunity with one of the greatest clubs in the world.

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“He cried for weeks. It’s hard for kids that age to understand.

“I’m immensely proud of him though and hopefully, if he continues to develop in Scotland, then he can get another chance to play for one of the top teams.”

Ale is currently part of the Scotland Boys Club Academy of Football, run by former Manchester City and Coventry star Bobby McDonald.

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He has also trained with Hearts and Rangers but Juan is hoping Barcelona’s youth coaches are true to their word to keep tabs on his lad.

“Ale has benefited from having the natural ability of a Spanish player with the work rate and toughness of a Scottish player.

“He won’t be pushed around but he has good feet, a superb eye for a pass, good decision making and is very fast.

“Ale is very young of course but he is obsessed with football. The coaches say they will monitor his progress back in Scotland.

“One day who knows? Neymar never had the money to go through the Academy system at Barcelona but look at him now.”


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