DANI ALVES IS BACK TO JOIN XAVI AT BARCELONA. BUT THIS IS MORE THAN JUST A FORMER PLAYER RETURNING
The band is well and truly back on its way. Xavi’s long-stated return to Barcelona has finally happened, and there is much fanfare around it as the optimism is sky-high. One of his first moves, apart from allegedly firing the medical staff, has been the signing of a former teammate.
Back in DA house! pic.twitter.com/qicb8RRc1h
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 12, 2021
One of the most beloved players at Camp Nou, and the most decorated of all time in the sport- Dani Alves, is back in the fold. The whispers were already in place ever since Dani Alves left Sao Paulo and got even more steam once Ronald Koeman was fired.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 13, 2021
His return marks an important step in the setting up of a new-look Barcelona with aims of rekindling the old flame.
MORE THAN A PLAYER
Alves coming back is not just an old player coming back to their beloved club. Joan Laporta has made it clear that he is also looking at a “sporting role.” One of the primary tasks of the Brazilian will be to provide the veteran presence in the dressing room. Along with Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, the trio will be three of the most experienced in a squad that is filled with youngsters and teenagers.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta: “Dani Alves is helping the club in many ways – and he also offered us his help on a sporting perspective. With Puyol there is a very direct relationship. They can help if Xavi needs them”. 🔴 #FCB pic.twitter.com/dMauutNoWA
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 8, 2021
Ansu Fati, Pedri, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, Alejandro Balde have all been in and around the first-team picture for a while now. Alves’ will be much needed in overseeing the progress and training of them, knowing La Liga and European football better than most. The young players will benefit greatly, learning the tips and tricks of the trade.
👶🏻 Young talent pic.twitter.com/sBfZJ0kSiD
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 15, 2021
Alves is renowned for his winning mentality and drive to never settle anything less than the best. One simply does not become the player with the most silverware ever without keeping that hunger going for a long, long time. Alves was the captain and leader of the Brazilian Olympic Team in Tokyo, adding the only medal that was missing from his cabinet.
Dani Alves has now won 43 trophies in his career following his Olympic Gold 😱
The most by any player in history! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/aRbrnhWmbP
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 7, 2021
It is likely that he will not be seeing too many minutes on the pitch, but the very fact that Xavi insisted on him after Koeman was not in favour speaks volumes. The new manager is extremely keen to have the current team learn from the best of his time and there is no denying that the heydays of this pair were some of the best in history.
XAVI ➡️ 3.0 pic.twitter.com/NAg5VJTXBd
— Iniestazo (@INIE8TAZO) October 27, 2021
Barcelona have been extremely flat so far, with losses to Bayern Munich, Benfica, Real Madrid, and of course, Rayo Vallecano. The most recent match was yet another collapse, blowing a 3-0 lead to draw against Celta Vigo. The need for seniors to reinvigorate the players is very much needed, and this a step in the right direction.
Coming to the game on the pitch, Barcelona are lucky to have two of the most promising right-backs in the game. Sergino Dest (currently injured) and Oscar Mingueza have become regulars on match days. The American has made the right wingback spot his as he attacks with regularity and is adept at delivering crosses.
Sergiño Dest, ranked against the rest of U20 players in La Liga:
Dribbles completed: 1st
Tackles won: 1st
Chances created: 1st
Key passes: 1st
Accurate crosses: 1st
Accurate passes: 2nd
Duels won: 1st
Fouls drawn: joint 1st
Minutes played: 1st pic.twitter.com/4BtC4q0aZ1
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) October 29, 2021
Dest had 8.56 progressive carries, 1.91 dribbles completed and 5.02 progressive passes received over the past year, putting him among the high-90th percentile of players in a similar position. Luckily for him, Alves was one of the best at this very job and remains a force to be reckoned with. He will be taking both the fullbacks under his wing, and they have a brilliant chance now of learning from him. Alves’ bombing runs for overlap and playing through the middle during the latter stages of his career.
• Barcelona have spent €93.7m in the last 5 years looking for a replacement for Dani Alves: Vidal (€17m), Semedo (€35.7m), Wague (€5m), Dest (€21m) and Emerson (€15m).
• If Dest develops properly, he can definitely be the backbone of the team.
— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) November 13, 2021
With Sao Paulo, he converted himself into a midfielder, as he wanted more touches of the ball and to be more involved. Dest and Mingueza, with the Spaniard also able to play centre-back, will be honing their forward plays more. Dest in particular has played as part of the front-three many times, though his finishing leaves a lot to be desired.
Nevertheless, the pair’s training with Alves will be key and with more players returning to fitness, their defensive work will once again be required in high degree.
XAVI MAKING HIS MARK
Though he is yet to take charge of his first match, the intricate nature of his relationship with the club has already been in full bloom. The intense amount of good vibes is of course a big bonus to a floundering Barcelona side, but when it comes to results, the personnel need to do their jobs.
Xavi’s 10 commandments 📝 pic.twitter.com/jNUIQgoUaN
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 12, 2021
Alves will not be able to play till January, but just the fact that Xavi wants him around with talks of a return for Carles Puyol as well augurs well for Barcelona. They are aiming to leave their dark days quickly behind them and have two members of the same cloth to help succeed in those ambitions.