All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, there is an increasing mountain of evidence pointing to the fact that Dani Alves’ Barcelona career is in its final days. His agent has informed the media that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu will not return her calls. Meanwhile, it is believed that Alves’ agent has been actively conducting talks with other clubs. As if that wasn't enough, Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez stated that Alves’ has expressed his intention to leave the club this summer.
The strongest evidence for Alves’ imminent departure comes from the actions of the right-back himself. The Brazilian international is characteristically vocal about dismissing false media reports. Last summer, he went as far as to directly dismiss the rumors of specific news agencies. This year, there are plenty of stories being published that link Alves to Serie A side Juventus. For someone who usually gives unadulterated commentary on almost everything the media says about him, it is very telling that he has not made any statements that deny the validity of these rumors.
Any club that signs the Brazilian defender will certainly be getting a bargain. Alves’ current contract, an extension of a former one, was negotiated last summer when Barcelona was in the midst of a transfer ban. Since the club was so intent on keeping the squad intact, Alves was allowed to include an unusual clause in his contract. According to the clause, any club that signs Alves now, a year after the original contract extension, can sign him completely free without paying any transfers fees. As far as money is concerned, he is basically a free agent.
Alves’ imminent departure leaves another hole in the Barcelona squad that must be filled during this summer transfer window, which also happens to be a hectic time -- including three international tournaments.
Dani Alves is a right-back by name, but, in reality, he vacillates, in the most complementary sense of the word, between defending and creating opportunities as a forward when the need arises. As far as replacements go, current Barcelona squad members Aleix Vidal and Sergi Roberto are capable, in theory, of doing the job. Many sources are also linking the club with possible moves for Hector Bellerin or Joao Cancelo to fill Alves’ impactful, unique role. However, we must agree that there will only ever be one Dani Alves.
True, Alves has gone through periods of disapproval and discredit over his eight years at the Camp Nou. At times, some have even insinuated that he was never good enough to don the crest of the best club in the world. Maybe Alves isn’t the Messi-like beast who bangs in a million goals per season, but he certainly has played a huge part through the illustrious past few years, filled with plenty of victories.
Like him or not, Alves has been an essential element in the Barcelona that has made history in the most part of the last decade. While some fans and commentators may not necessary miss the Brazilian right back, the Barcelona squad will never be the same without another player who can fill his dynamic role.
Inevitably, Alves' departure will force another proverbial domino to fall in the slow transition that Barcelona is going through as the group of players that have made history with the club continues to move on. Unquestionably, Dani Alves’ move presents another opportunity for Luis Enrique to display his managing prowess to guide the club through this potentially tumultuous era.
By Marissa Blackman, columnist at Barcablog.