Barcelona’s official announcement called Dani Alves “The greatest right back in Barcelona’s History” when they announced his return to the club on a one-year deal with an option to renew. But at 38 years, you have to ask, what exactly is he returning to do and where will he fit in a Barcelona team that has its eyes primed to the future?
Ayoola Kelechi and Jidechi Chidiezie ponder on the possibilities that Daniel Alves’ move back to Catalonia opens up for him as well as Barcelona’s young stars.
1. Dani Alves has a role to play in the new Barcelona
Fiction. Daniel Alves has been touted increasingly for his spirit and mentality which he will expectedly bring to the team and the good part of which is expected to rub off on the very impressionable young players at Barcelona but then he’s there to also take minutes away from them while doing that so can it still be seen as a complete positive?
Does he still have the ability he once did to fairly challenge for a spot on the team without infringing on what would be regular playing time for the budding stars that Barcelona need to prioritize? Perhaps not.
FACT. While it might look like Dani Alves’ return to Barcelona is a bad move, Xavi’s arrival at the club makes it a good move. And, it is simple. The new Barcelona gaffer after his arrival revealed punishments would be meted out to rule-breakers, meaning Barcelona’s players will be punished harder than they most likely have been pushed in a while. Not many of Barcelona’s current players played alongside Xavi to understand he means business. And this is where Alves comes in.
The right-back who played in the previous glory days of the club would be expected to be the shining example, showing the youngsters how they pushed hard in the past. An attribute the current Barcelona squad lacks.
2. Daniel Alves would make a great coaching addition
Fact. “A good kind of crazy” was the tweet from the official Barcelona handle that vaguely announced the imminent arrival of Dani Alves and nothing could be truer. His ability to shake up a dressing room and institute a positive mentality could be something that the current Barcelona team needs. Barcelona these days play like they need someone to aggressively shake them out of a nightmare and few people are more equipped for shaking up than Dani Alves who is a walking talking maraca.
If he were only brought into the team as a team coach, then perhaps fans would be more welcoming of his signing.
FACT. 38 years of age, and one would have expected that Dani Alves would have like Frank Lampard, Xavi, Mikel Arteta, and Steven Gerrard started considering becoming a football coach. A defender with a highly attacking mindset and a leader, Alves oozes the vibe of a retired player who would thrive at coaching.
Maybe start small, become a player coach at the Camp Nou after your contract runs out at the end of the season, and then go into full-time coaching later. What’s even better than having a Xavi who is not just your coach, but your friend to guide you.
3. Daniel Alves is the greatest right back in Barcelona’s history
Fact. Daniel Alves is clear. He isn’t only the greatest in Barcelona history but could stake a claim for the best right-back period. His time at Barcelona saw him play some excellent football and improve on the model of the attacking full-back instituted by Brazilian full-backs before him.
His ability on the ball as well as his understanding of the game was incredibly impressive as he combined the vertical movement down the right-wing that we have come to expect from rampaging full-backs with more horizontal forays that saw him take up position even in central midfield, being an active part of the team’s playmaking process even while playing at right-back.
The fact that he left Catalonia with more trophies and medals in his sac than Santa has presents at Christmas just seals it. The greatest ever by a healthy margin.
FACT. Well, I do agree with this. 23 major honours over eight years at Camp Nou is enough to say this is not even a debate. A record 46 trophies in his career, put him up there as one of the best right-backs to ever grace football.
While Barcelona might have boasted of a host of World-class defenders in their 122-year history, how many of them were right-backs? This leaves Alves as a king in that position. Better still, he is a defender who scored multiple times for the Blaugranas – 23 goals from the right-back position – and was an automatic regular despite the managerial changes Barcelona experienced.