Guardiola & Man City left furious & flapping after dramatic Dani Alves u-turn

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The Brazilian had agreed a two-year deal to join Manchester City and was allowed to enjoy his holidays in peace, but secretly decided to sign for PSG


SPECIAL REPORT

On July 7, Pep Guardiola had lunch with Dani Alves in Barcelona and talked about the future of Manchester City. At around lunchtime on July 11, City officials were still expecting Alves to board their flight to the United States at the start of next week. A few hours later, Alves was having a medical at Paris Saint-Germain.

What happened? What happens next? City are now scrambling around for the answers.

Alves to join PSG

It was the prospect of joining up with Guardiola at City which led to Alves becoming free to decide his own future in the first place. The Brazilian had had his head turned by the idea of playing for his old boss one last time and Juventus, extremely graciously it must be said, liberated him from his contract.

Like the majority of City's other transfer targets this summer, the 34-year-old had already agreed to the terms of a contract and, with Juve willing to release him, he was all set to become the Blues' third signing of the summer.

Compared to negotiating multi-million pound deals for various other targets, it all seemed very easy. Alves was on holiday in Brazil as Juve took a little time to finalise his exit and nobody in Manchester felt in any particular rush to put pen to paper. Some at City hoped the right-back would be at the training ground at the end of June, but of course there was the small matter of Lionel Messi's wedding.

Who could hold that against him? No rush.

Dani Alves quote

Last week, as Guardiola prepared to return to Manchester for pre-season, he met with Alves in Barcelona to talk about his plans for the rest of the summer and beyond.

The pair discussed the club's transfer strategy, including the progress of their move for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez. It is not known whether Alves casually mentioned that he was actually going to sign for PSG, but given nobody at City seemed worried by reports which emerged on Saturday about a last-minute, dramatic change of heart, you would assume the topic did not come up. 

Presumably he mentioned he was getting married in Ibiza on Saturday, which is why City were under the impression they would finally get him to Manchester on Wednesday. Still, no rush; who could begrudge him his own wedding?

And then the deal was off. At some point in the last few days, perhaps even on his wedding day, Alves and his people were finalising a move to PSG. Not all of his people, seemingly: as late as Tuesday afternoon certain sources close to the player were themselves surprised at this turn of events.

For City it was déjà vu. Last June, Aymeric Laporte informed the Blues' sporting director, Txiki Begirsitain, that after agreeing personal terms he wouldn't be moving to the Etihad after all. The contracts had been drawn up and a fee had been agreed with Athletic Bilbao, and Laporte's 11th hour phone call left Begiristain so furious that the young centre-back was not considered as a transfer target this summer, and probably won't be in the future. 

Alves's decision - given he agreed his deal with City more than a fortnight ago, got himself out of his contract at Juve and has been enjoying life across South America and southern Europe since - has proven even more unpopular; Guardiola is said to be livid.

Dani Alves quote

Perhaps PSG offered Alves more than the €5 million per year he would have got at City, perhaps he and his new wife would rather live in Paris, perhaps he will get more regular game time. For City, it does not really matter; they now need to focus on what comes next.

Given what he discussed with Guardiola last week, Alves may even know the extent of the damage he has done; City's transfer plans will be affected.

The Blues are determined to bring in four full-backs, but those familiar with their dealings have always stressed that the average price of the four, rather than the potentially high individual costs of Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, is the most important thing. Four full-backs for the price of three, effectively.

City have been working on their top targets for months but now they will have to identify and sign another right-back - last year, after Laporte's snub and the failure to sign Leonardo Bonucci, they could not find another suitable centre-back candidate and used Aleksandar Kolarov instead.

Guardiola knew exactly what he would have been getting from Alves given their time together at Barcelona, and it is surely impossible to find somebody who ticks all the boxes the Brazilian does.

If they do find a viable right-back they will know that Europe's clubs will recognise their desperate situation and ask for as much money as possible. The Blues will have previously looked at, but decided against, several targets, and will now be going over their old notes. Serge Aurier, perhaps, given PSG now have a new right-back? Maybe Nelson Semedo? Benjamin Henrichs? Not Hector Bellerin - he rejected City last summer, too, and Begirstain hasn't forgiven him either.

Whoever it is, add a few million to their price tag.

And don't imagine Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will be any more inclined to lower his demands for Walker, either.

All the latest transfer rumours

More money spent on full-backs is also likely to have a knock-on effect for City's centre-back pursuit. The plan had always been to put deals in place for the priorties (Ederson, full-backs, Bernardo Silva and Alexis Sanchez) and then see how much money was left, and who was on the market. City had been so convinced they would get their four full-backs, including Alves, that they have been laying the foundations to bring in a centre-back.

The worry for the club now is whether their funds stretch far enough to 'replace' Alves at right-back and get a new centre-back as well. They had hoped to recoup £100m from player sales to help offset this summer's spending, but that is always going to be a difficult task.

The alternative is to somehow spend more money, for somebody in Manchester to pick up the phone to Abu Dhabi and politely ask for extra funds to be released.

After weeks of high confidence regarding their transfer plans, these are dilemmas nobody at City had been expecting to face. And yet here they are, three days into pre-season with no full-backs and, even more seriously, a gaping hole in their strategy.  

Missing out on Alves, then, is clearly a major blow. It seems Guardiola did not know him well enough after all.

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