Barcelona have sent young midfielder Carles Alena on loan to fellow La Liga club Real Betis until the end of the season.
Spain Under-21 international Alena started Barca's first league game of the campaign against Athletic Bilbao but has struggled for playing time since, featuring just three more times in the top flight.
Speaking this month, head coach Ernesto Valverde admitted he would have liked to have used Alena more often this term given his impressive display during his side’s 2-1 win against Inter at San Siro in the Champions League.
However, he faces competition from the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Arthur and Ivan Rakitic in the heart of Barca’s midfield.
As a result the 21-year-old, who worked his way through the academy ranks and has made 39 first-team appearances, will now link up with Betis for the second half of 2019-20 in order to guarantee himself some regular first-team football.
The six-month loan deal, confirmed on Barcelona's official website on Saturday, does not include any purchase option.
Alena made his Barcelona debut as an 18-year-old against Hercules in the Copa del Rey in November 2016, scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw. He made his La Liga debut the following April as a second-half substitute away at Granada.
He was rewarded for his breakthrough year with a new three-year contract in the summer of 2017. He then signed an extension the following year, tying him to the club until 2022.
The midfielder has also been a regular at youth level for Spain, representing his country from under-16 through to under-21 level.
Alena is in line to make his debut for Betis away at Deportivo Alaves when the Spanish season resumes after the winter break on January 5.
It is the second piece of good news for Real Betis fans this week, with 38-year-old captain and club icon Joaquin signing a new contract through to the summer of 2021.
Rubi’s side are currently 13th in La Liga with 23 points from their 18 league games so far.