Barcelona’s tremendous trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez may hog most of the headlines, but Dani Alves’ recent form has been just as influential in the club’s bid for the treble.
Alves’ performances over the past two months have been of a consistently high standard and he was key to helping Barca break the deadlock against Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final when he won possession before setting up Messi to score.
Yet there is every chance Alves won’t be at Barcelona next season as his contract expires in the summer.
As you would expect, Alves has been offered a deal to stay at Barcelona. However, he was initially unhappy with the offer of a one-year deal, which contained a two-year option depending upon the number of games he played.
It was then reported that Alves had accepted a two-year contract to stay at the Nou Camp as his priority has always been to remain in Barcelona.
But now reports suggest that Alves will be on his way to Manchester United after being offered a more lucrative deal by the Premier League club. The fact United wouldn’t have to pay a transfer fee certainly puts them in a position to offer a big salary to the Brazilian.
The question is; can Barcelona afford to let the 32-year-old join a club hoping to rival them in the Champions League next season?
Though Alves has recently turned 32, his performances of late show no signs of age catching up with him and he is still able to get up and down the right flank at great speed. He remains an asset defensively and in attack, and there are few comparable players in his position in world football. Barcelona would need to spend a good £20million or so to find a suitable replacement for Alves.
From United’s point of view, you can see the attraction of signing Alves. For the next two seasons – the time that is left on Louis van Gaal’s contract as well – they would be getting a player who can offer much more than their current right-backs and on a consistent basis.
Given that converted winger Antonio Valencia has spent much of the season at right-back, ahead of the injury-prone Rafael, shows it is a position United have a pressing need to fill in the summer.
The added bonus to signing Alves, in addition to there being no transfer fee, is that he also won’t be playing in the Copa America. Brazil’s odds of 3/1 make them second favourites in the international football betting for the tournament, but coach Dunga has found no place in his 23-man squad for Alves, instead preferring Danilo at right-back.
That omission will ensure Alves has plenty of time to rest up in the summer and also then play a full part in United’s pre-season.
As for Alves, if Barcelona finish this season as treble winners, then there is nothing left for him to achieve at the club as he missed the 2009 Champions League final win over United through suspension the last time they won the treble.
If Barcelona have improved their contract offer to Alves, then they have finally realised his value to them, the only problem is that it might be too late.