Dani Alves, without heirs or successors in Barcelona

BARCELONA – Dani Alves back and Barcelona trusting in the past when looking to the future. After weeks in which balls were thrown out from the club and his return was ruled out in a low voice because it was, they said, counterproductive with the team’s future project, Xavi resolved his signing and Joan Laporta granted it by showing a clear message: The new coach has the undisputed power in all sports. Whether it is correct or not, the Catalan coach must respond in the first person.

Alves, 38, has become the oldest footballer incorporated by the Barça club and when he makes his debut, it is assumed that on January 2, 2022 in Mallorca, he will be the oldest player to wear the Barça shirt in a league match. . The Brazilian will then be 38 years, 7 months and 24 days old and will leave behind Pinto, a regular substitute for Víctor Valdés and who played his last game with Barça on May 17, 2014, at 38 years, 6 months and 9 days. That Sunday, with sad memories, Atlético de Madrid conquered the League at the Camp Nou … And next to Pinto, as a right-back, was Alves.

He played at that time as a right-back, lane, winger and whatever it took to become the best 2 remembered in the club. For many the best in Barça history, for all a transcendental player when it comes to explaining Barça’s successes, from Guardiola to Luis Enrique. Until May 22, 2016 he said goodbye. He did it by winning the Cup final against Sevilla and the next day he already hinted at his farewell … Predicting, something then impossible to believe, that he would return.

And after five and a half years that prediction comes true. In all this time, even before he left, Barça looked for an heir without finding him and when two months after offering himself to return for the first time, Xavi called him personally, on Thursday, to convey his interest in incorporating him into the team. he thought about it.

Hearing out loud who had been his teammate who wanted him on the squad was enough for Alves to park all (which were not few) the proposals he had received since he broke his contract with Sao Paulo in September. He was able to change clubs in Brazil, they called him from Mexico, Qatar, Spain and Portugal, but, beyond money, returning to Barça, in his efforts to play the 2022 World Cup, meant the most to him.

Counterproductive for some and exciting for others, what is an evidence is that without being able to expect that the Dani Alves of 2022 will be the same as that of 2012, it is true that at 38 years old he maintains a good state of form. In recent weeks he has been seen running around Barcelona and methodically taking care of his preparation. And such is his self-confidence that he accepted a contract without blinking until the end of the season, convinced that he would win the renewal for one more and reach the World Cup, November 2022, in full.

INCOMPARABLE

Between August 2014 and June 2021, Barça tried, unsuccessfully, to find an heir for Dani Alves on the right side. Douglas Pereira, Aleix Vidal, Nelson Semedo, Mousa Wagué, Sergiño Dest and Emerson Royal went through the Camp Nou, still in the case of Dest, without having equaled, much less improved, the role of Dani Alves.

A total investment of 98 million euros in seven years in six footballers who together scored 9 goals and distributed 23 assists in 230 games, figures that are not even close to Alves’ statistics in his eight Barça seasons (391 games, 21 goals). and 103 assists) and almost tripling his transfer price.

Coming from Sao Paulo for four million euros, Douglas, blessed by Luis Enrique, came to the club with the aim of fighting with Dani Alves and after two seasons in which he barely played three games, one as a starter, he began a rosary of assignments for Sporting de Gijón, Benfica and Sivasspor until they went free to Besiktas with the release card. Always with a very limited performance, this year he signed for Matalyaspor. Disappeared from the front line.

A season later, in August 2015, Barça believed they found Aleix Vidal a firm competition for the Brazilian. Unable to make his debut until January 2016, Vidal, for whom Seville was paid 17 million euros, returned to the Andalusian club for just over half after three seasons and without meeting expectations, currently playing for Espanyol. .

The strongest bet was represented in the summer of 2017 by Nelson Semedo, signed to Benfica for 35 million euros when several greats of the Premier League were interested in him. Of regular performance in defense and little transcendence in attack, he was never convincing and Jorge Mendes placed him in the summer of 2020 at Wolverhampton practically covering his cost.

His departure coincided with the arrival, from Ajax, of the young Sergiño Dest, for 21 million euros and presented as a first-level promise, a status to which he still aspires in his second season as a Barça player and having played both on the side and in the extreme, with a less positive performance, so far, than expected.

The last move, and the most unlikely, was personalized by Emerson Royal. Right-back with a great offensive projection, he was half-signed between Barça and Betis, with whom he played 79 games at optimal performance between February 2019 and May 2021, when the Barça club decided to join, adding 9 million euros to the 6 paid initially. Just three games after the start of the season, at the end of the market, the Brazilian was sold to Tottenham for 25 million, of which Barça kept 22.5 to, at least, have an economic benefit of more than 7 million. And a new sports disappointment.

After all the inventions, bets and even seeing Sergi Roberto settled in the position or Mingueza getting used to it, Xavi solved the convenience of opening the door to a Dani Alves with a very uncertain future but present, he estimates, indisputable. On the way to 39 years old, he will meet them in May 2022, his strong personality, leadership skills and outgoing character is seen as a reinforcement that should give a boost to the staff and reinforce a position in which he can, should, be the best teacher for Dest.

Only time, starting in January, will tell if Xavi’s decision was correct or a mistake.

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