Name: Iván Alejo
Date of Birth: 10th February 1995 (Age 22)
Position: Right Winger
Current club: SD Eibar
Career statistics (as of 03/12/2017):
La Liga appearances: 5 (308 minutes for Eibar)
Segunda A appearances: 28 (1526 minutes for Alcorcón)
Segunda B appearances: 39 (1949 minutes for Alético Madrid II and Villarreal II)
Treating Iván Alejo as the ‘Artful Dodger’, it is fair to say that at times the young Spaniard’s career has been ‘Movin Too Fast’. A classic case of a young player that bursts onto the scene with bags of potential who later leaves for pastures new once realising that the chances of first team football at a side competing for European competitions are incredibly few and far between. Thankfully for Alejo, whilst the confidence of many a promising youngster could easily be shattered after being released from a team competing at the top of their respective league (in Alejo’s case La Liga), early setbacks in his career if have anything, appeared to prove productive in the long run with the young winger showing glimpses of the potential that inevitably led to many touting him as the next big thing.
Born and raised in the North West of the Spanish peninsula, Alejo joined the youth ranks of Real Valladolid as a youngster aged eight before spending the same amount of years both developing and progressing through the youth ranks at the club. And it was there where Alejo began to make a name from himself, inevitably attracting clubs of much greater stature due to his early promise as a talented, young right winger. Therefore it wouldn’t be long until a move further south would be on the cards with Atlético Madrid Alejo’s preferred suitor. Alejo consequently joined the club’s youth setup in 2011, making his senior debut with the club’s C team in the third division of Spanish football and once again, spent this amount of years at the club up to the age of nineteen.
Despite promotion to the club’s reserve team in July 2014 that would ultimately give Alejo his first taste of first team football one step closer to La Liga, the club decided to part ways with the player whilst Iván earned a move to fellow Champions League chasing outfit Villarreal, forming part of their second team in the Segunda division. Sadly Alejo would only spend just the one season with the club, contributing with seventeen appearances throughout the 2015/16 season and one goal before being poached by a team a mere stone throw away from his previous employers in Madrid, AD Alcorcón. And it would then be here where Alejo would in many ways grow from a boy, to a man.
With early setbacks now behind him, not only did Alejo soon get a consistent run of first-team appearances that would inevitably allow him to continue developing without interruption but with such an opportunity, it would be correct to say that Alejo seized it with both hands. Scoring his first professional goal for the club albeit at the end of his only season spent with Alcorcón, Alejo was a permanent fixture in the club’s starting XI with Alejo helping his side to avoid relegation at the end of the season. By this point, his club’s flirtation with the drop instead emphasised that Alejo had now gone from being a small fish in an incredibly big pond with Atleti and Villarreal to the complete opposite with Alcorcón competing in the second tier of Spanish football.
For this reason, it was fairly unsurprising to see Alejo earn his just deserts with both a move to a club competing in La Liga but more importantly, one willing to provide him with playing time in the first team. Yet despite Eibar’s move for Alejo seen widely at the time as a risk given what many sceptics seen simply as early promise but not much more, Alejo’s transfer to the club at least at present appears to have paid off. Not only has Alejo made a seamless transition up the ranks of Spanish football and now plays comfortably in a side up against the likes of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid’s starting XI’s throughout the course of a season but with a club such as Eibar, the relative size and expectations of the club have ultimately allowed Alejo to play with complete confidence and expression. Likewise at a cost of a mere €300,000, his recent performances have highlighted that purchases from the lower leagues can often be chances that are worth taking!
So what is he like? How does he play? Is he the real deal? Built in the mould of a traditional right winger, you can of course expect a mixture of pace, agility and acceleration which allows Alejo to contribute so heavily in Eibar’s attacking moves towards goal. His work both on and off the ball has therefore been impressive, as has his eye for making a vital contribution towards scoring with Alejo already on two assists and one goal for the current 2017/18 season. Similarly like many modern day Spanish midfielders, both his comfort in possession and the production of accurate passes throughout the pitch is worth paying attention to as well.
Above all in watching Alejo’s performances, at present you see a player that is going from strength to strength on a weekly basis. From breaking into the Eibar first team earlier this season, notching his first assist in Eibar’s 2-1 away victory at Legánes and then scoring his first La Liga goal for the club in another victory, this time a 3-1 win over RCD Espanyol. There’s therefore no doubting his potential at this time of writing coupled with his determination to rise from defeat and setbacks early on his career to reach where he is today.
All in all, the future certainly looks bright for Alejo, another player both from Atlético Madrid’s youth academy and one that Eibar have plucked from the Spanish second tier and transformed into a reliable, first-team performer in the first tier of Spanish football. Whether Alejo goes onto to emulate former Eibar alumni Keko, now of Malaga CF, who too came from Atleti’s youth setup, descended to the Segunda before earning a move to Eibar remains unknown. If Alejo can, just like Keko succeeded in doing so with Eibar, then his current club could merely be a springboard towards club’s of an admittedly greater size and stature and more than anything, the start of a bright future in the professional game.