Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has claimed that Aleix Vidal needs to raise his level should he want to be first-choice right-back, amid recent reports linking the Catalans with a January move for Arsenal star Hector Bellerin. The boss was speaking ahead of the visit of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night (21 September), with Sergi Roberto expecting to be the starting right-back ahead of the former Sevilla star.
Vidal, 27, moved to the Nou Camp from Sevilla in the summer of 2015 with the intent of becoming a long-term replacement for Dani Alves. However, the Spaniard failed to make the impact expected during his debut season at the La Liga giants, with his settling in period hampered due to his unavailability to play during the first part of the season because of a Fifa registration ban.
The former Sevilla wing-back was expected to have a new chance to prove himself at Barcelona this season following the departure of Alves to Juventus. However, Luis Enrique has opted to used midfielder Sergi Roberto ahead of him in the opening games of the campaign, with Vidal being restricted to just two appearances in seven matches.
The Spaniard was even left out the squad completely for the 5-1 victory over Leganes, with Javier Mascherano playing at right-back in order to give Sergi Roberto a rest. Reports have since claimed that Vidal's future at Barcelona is over as the Catalans want to lure Hector Bellerin back from Arsenal to replace him.
AS claimed earlier this week that Barcelona are a move for the Arsenal right-back in January, while Sport suggests they may wait until the summer as convincing Arsene Wenger to part ways with the Spaniard will not be an easy job.
Luis Enrique has failed to address the interest in the Gunners right-back, but did send a message to Vidal and other out-of-favour players ahead of the La Liga encounter with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
Asked about the snub to Vidal in the victory over Leganes and the emergence of Sergi Roberto ahead of him, Luis Enrique said: "This is going to be the music to the whole season if you focus on who is or is not playing. It happens to every manager. I have a unique squad and every week someone will be dropped. But the players [who are not playing] should improve their performances individually and collectively.
"That's my message for everyone, because we all make mistakes, but we make sure those mistakes are as few as possible. It is necessary to improve in order to ensure that all the players have minutes in such a good squad. I try to give minutes to everyone. I'd like to have all my players playing all the time, although that's a utopia because it's not easy when you can't pick everyone. I know it is not easy to keep that level when you are not playing regularly."