The Brazilian full-back is linked with Juve and PSG
Dani Alves has been linked with various clubs for several summers now. It's nothing new that the Brazilian full-back could leave Barcelona to end his career somewhere else. Yet, the rumours are becoming information and Alves decided to leave, according to Barça's sporting director Robert Fernández. The most recent and serious leads link the right-back with Italian champions Juventus and French champions PSG. According to the newspaper Sport, the deal with the former would have already been sealed, meaning the Brazilian would go to Italy this summer and not France.
However, nothing official has been communicated in terms of transfer by the club nor the player himself, which implies Dani Alves hasn't chosen still where he would go. In any case, the Blaugranas will have to face an issue regarding the right-back position. A golden opportunity for Aleix Vidal to establish himself in the starting eleven, but a much more difficult problem to solve from the club's point of view, which doesn't have any guarantees of Vidal's level given the half-season he had in 2016. Obviously, nothing is settled and various options are available for Luis Enrique and Barça.
Start Aleix Vidal
We learn by doing, and it is true that Aleix Vidal hasn't been able to do much at Barça in the past season. Firstly, because Barça were banned of the transfer market until the winter transfer window of 2016 and their two signees Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan could not play until the 1st of January of 2016. This is part of the explanation why Vidal, for his first ever season as a Blaugrana after a very succesful stay at Sevilla, wasn't performing as well as expected from a two-times Europa League winner.
Being in the shadow of Dani Alves should have been the perfect situation for Vidal to quietly improve, surrounded by some of the best players on the planet, while waiting for his moment to shine. Unfortunately for Barça and Luis Enrique, Aleix Vidal proved impatient and disappointed by his game time in the six months of professional football during which he was available. Lacking motivation, the Catalan right-back has let a performance drop and the comments of the press get the best of him. So much that his credibility as Dani Alves' successor is now in doubt. Aged 26 years, he still have time to reach the highest of his potential, but time isn't in his favour in a club like Barça that relentlessly chases trophies, year in and year out.
It is up to him to show he has what it takes to end the gossip and make sure the right-back position is in good shape. After 6 months of adaptation, highs and lows, he is probably more involved in Barça's culture on and off the pitch, a good advantage when having to play in this well-oiled machine that is FC Barcelona. His talent hasn't vanished and sooner rather than later, Vidal will prove it to the whole of football experts. Patience and trust are key.
Buy another right-back
Barcelona may not have as much money at their disposal as they once had, as seen during the winter transfer window when Nolito was supposed to come to Barça, but Dani Alves' exit means 5 million euros a year less to pay. Obviously, it would have been better to be able to sell the 33-year old for a respectable amount of money, but still, with his wage off the board, Barça could afford a promising right-back, in the case they find the Aleix Vidal option not viable enough.
But who to buy in that case? One of the hottest rumour was about Arsenal's young talent Hector Bellerín, who will take part in the Euro 2016, after Dani Carvajal had to withdraw because of his injury in the Champion's League final. A few problems come up about this transfer: first, Bellerín seems to be very happy in Arsenal, and in London, where his family now lives. Also, he signed a whole new contract recently that establishes him as an Arsenal player until June of 2019.
Another prospect is Marquinhos, although the right-back position is not his favourite. Nonetheless, his talent proved useful to PSG when Laurent Blanc had to face Serge Aurier's ban for insults towards him on Periscope. The main problem is economic, as PSG would not let go of the Brazilian wonder kid below 40 million euros. Robert Fernández, who announced today Alves' leaving, defused the rumour: "I haven't talked to the player nor to the club", he said.
The same goes for Everton's John Stones, who is a centre-back, and Valencia's Mustafi, who was linked at some point with the Catalan club. Alves's departure will probably accelerate the process if Barça decided to replace him with a brand new signing.
Make Sergi Roberto a right-back
This probably wouldn't be a problem for the young Blaugrana player, as he proved capable of playing at virtually any position on the pitch. Sergi Roberto had a blast this season, and played the role of the Swiss knife to overcome the squad's injuries and unavailabilities. And he did it well, Luis Enrique being very satisfied with his performance all along the season. Making him a full time right-back seems like a temporary solution though, to set back even further the moment to make a decision as for Dani Alves' succession.
And even though he executed Luis Enrique's orders perfectly and behaved as an ideal teammate last season, there is no guarantee Sergi Roberto would blossom as a right-back, he who is originally a central midfielder. There is still time to figure it out and sound out the player to see if he would maybe be up for it. That way, Barça could think of a better alternative with the assurance of a strong back-up, between Aleix Vidal and Sergi Roberto.
There is no doubt Barça's people in charge of transfers are thinking about these options, and are evaluating the best one to go for. Whether it is Aleix Vidal's opportunity to become the next big right-back in Europe, Sergi Roberto's decision to cope with the right-back position and offer Barça some stability while waiting for a new chance to sign an ace, or if the Blaugranas decide to get at it right away and sign a promising talent on the right side of the defence, to make sure the team is ready for next season. Time will tell.