Jordi Alba was deservedly named the best Catalan sportsman in 2018. He was key in Barcelona's double success, thanks to his partnership with Lionel Messi. The left-back is in a great moment of form and he has spoke to Sport about a variety of subjects...
Congratulations for the prize. Was 2018 the best year of your caree?
Thanks! I don't know if the best, but one of the best years, professionally and personally.
Who would have thought it when you left La Masia. Did you think you'd be back?
No, I didn't. Many kids fall off the path and more at an academy like Barcelona. I always believed in myself and knew I could reach the top flight, but not at the level of Barcelona or the national team.
Your best Barça memory?
When you win a title. Lukcily, save one season, since I have been here we have always won something. Also, the important Champions League games. I remember the 4-0 against Milan when I got the last goal.
Your contract's up in 2020. Are you optimistic about a renewal?
Yes, of course. 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.
Do you feel valued by the club?
Since I have been here, I have felt valued. The club always make an effort with the players they want to keep and those they want to bring in. I don't have any complaints at the moment.
Manchester United and Juventus have been linked. Could you see yourself elsewhere?
You never know in football, but I repeat that my intention is to stay here come what may. I have never seen myself outside of Barcelona, since I have been at Barça 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 hve always seen myself in Barcelona and my dream is to retire here.
Let's talk about your connection with Lionel Messi?
Since I joined the club we have always had a good feeling, on and off the pitch. It's true that through playing more games our understanding has got much better and now Leo knows me perfectly. He always looks for me -- and I look for him -- and thanks to that we've been able to score a lot of goals.
What will Barça be like withouth Messi?
It will still be Barça, but it's clear that he will be missed a lot. I hope I am wrong, but it will take more to win titles, for sure, because Leo wins you games, titles, championships... he's the best player in history and it will be difficult not to think about him. I am sure all Barca fans and the whole football world will remember him when he's not playing anymore, but we hope to have him for many more years.
Is the Champions League the big aim this season?
The dream is to win all three titles. Obviously we've not got past the last eight in recent years and this year we want to break that barrier, it's not nice going out like we did last year, especially seeing the team we have. But that's the Champions League: one bad day and you pay.
Would you swap the domestic double for a Champions League?
In the end, I think you win what you deserve, so no, I want to win every title. You can win a Champions League and you can be left with a bad taste in the mouth in La Liga, if you don't win it. The objective is to fight until the end and to win every title.
Do you not get the sensation from outside, after recent years, that you must win the Champions League?
But maybe that's because of the way we went out. I remember other years, celebrating 100 point La Liga titles without having won the Copa or the Champions. I have also experienced it from the outside, when I was little, and it's not easy to win league titles. Maybe people now are more accustomed to seeing titles won which weren't won [before].
How do you see Real Madrid. Complaining about VAR, struggling a bit?
Yes, but they've not been doing well in many seasons and in the end they save a title. They're always Madrid, a direct rival, always tough to beat. In recent years we have got good results against them and been further ahead [in the league] but you can't rule them out.
Should Ernesto Valverde renew?
I hope he renews... I hope we both do!
Should the club sign a left-back? What do you think of Miranda and Cucurella…?
They're young kids. I've spoken with Miranda a lot. I have a good relationship with Cucurella, too, because he trained with us a lot before. I tell Miranda to have patience. I try to speak with him. He's a really young kid. I came back to Barca when I was 23 and it's not easy to get in the side, to have minutes. It's a huge club and the mental and physical demands are brutal. He's a good player, he wants to learn and I am sure things will go well for him in life because of how he is and how he plays.
What do you think about Neymar's possible return? Do you speak about it in the dressing room?
No, we don't talk about it. At the end of teh day, it's what people are saying outside [the club]. But I don't think it is true. Neymar's a tremendous player, one of the best, but eh decided to go and I don't see much logic in him wanting to come back. I don't believe it. He's a great player, a good friend with everyone in the dressing room, but people like Pedro and Marc Bartra were, too, for example, and they don't talk about them coming back. At the end of the day, everyone makes their own decisions and you have to respect them. But to be honest, I don't really believe it.