Álex Grimaldo has been a revelation since moving to Bayer Leverkusen from Benfica. bundesliga.com has everything you need to know about the flying left-back...
Stats correct as of 10 February 2024
Age: 28 (born 20 September 1995)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Country: Spain (1 cap)
Born 20 September 1995 in Valencia, Grimaldo - also known as "Alex" - joined the youth academy of his hometown club at 11 but spent just two years there before Catalan giants Barcelona came calling for his services in 2011. Grimaldo was soon fast-tracked to Barca's B team and became the youngest player in history to play in Spain's second division when he featured against Cartagena on 4 September 2011, aged 15 years and 349 days old - a record that still stood until May 2023.
Despite making 92 appearances for the club's reserve team, Grimaldo didn't go on to represent Barcelona's famed senior side and ultimately moved to Portuguese heavyweights Benfica in 2016. He went on to make more than 300 appearances for the club, including 40 outings in the UEFA Champions League proper and a further 13 in the competition's qualifying rounds. Grimaldo scored 26 times for the Portuguese outfit in the process, while providing 65 assists from left-back. During his time in Lisbon, Grimaldo became a three-time league champion and won both the Portugal Cup and Portugal League Cup, as well as three more Super Cups. Since signing for Die Werkself, Grimaldo has made the left-back berth his own, netting eight goals in his first 21 league appearances.
Watch: Grimaldo's stunning effort versus Bayern
Grimaldo featured twice for the Spain U16s before moving up to the U17s (eight caps) and U19s (nine caps), winning the UEFA U19 European Championship with the latter in 2012. Grimaldo played every game of that tournament in a star-studded Spain side and went on to make his U21 debut for La Roja, aged 17, collecting two appearances at that level. After impressing for Leverkusen at the start of the 2023/24 term, he picked up his maiden senior cap in a 3-1 UEFA European Championships qualifer victory over Cyprus, with the debutant providing an assist.
Plays a bit like: Raphaël Guerreiro
A full-back in its truest essence, Grimaldo effortlessly balances defensive duties with attacking ambition. He boasts a wand of a left-foot and is often looking to get to the opposition byline in order to deliver pinpoint crosses, but is equally adept at skipping inside to add more numbers in midfield. Whether overlapping or underlapping, Grimaldo's crossing and passing ability is second to none and he is a potent threat from set-pieces, especially free-kicks on the edge of the box.
All that sounds eerily similar to Bayern's Raphaël Guerreiro. The Portguese ace has been hampered by injuries since his switch to the Allianz Arena, but Borussia Dortmund fans will attest to his attacking threat - Guerreiro was regularly amongst the teams most creative outlets. Grimaldo makes the same contribution to Leverkusen - and perhaps slightly outdoes his Munich counterpart!
Did you know?
Grimaldo's free-kick prowess comes from a great deal of hard work on the training ground, even if he does find it difficult to squeeze practice into an increasingly packed schedule.
"When you play every three days, it's difficult to train regularly, but I always try [to practice free-kicks] before games," he said previously. "It's something I've been practicing for many years – shoot, miss, shoot, miss – until, in the end, things got better. That work paid off and... I hope I can score more."
Watch: Grimaldo explains his free-kick technique
What they're saying
"Part of the reason why we dominate games to the extent we do at the moment is to do with him reading situations very quickly and coming forward to create overloads." - Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes
"I’m attracted by the idea of showing my strengths in the Bundesliga... For me, it's one of the best leagues in Europe and is definitely unique in terms of the set-up and atmosphere at the stadiums. I’m very proud that a Bundesliga club like Bayer 04 has come in for me. I’m sure we will have a fantastic time together." – Grimaldo after signing for Die Werkself
"Players like Alejandro Grimaldo have significantly improved our quality of play,." - Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso
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