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Goal.com's countdown to the greatest player of 2008 continues with the exciting FC Barcelona and Brazil full-back Dani Alves who shone with Sevilla last season and with his country, and is now finding his feet in an impressive Blaugrana team...

50 - Ashley Young - Aston Villa, Premier League - Score: 1109
49 - Javier Zanetti - Internazionale, Serie A - Score: 1104
48 - Daniel Guiza - Fenerbahçe, Super Lig - Score: 1089
47 - Juninho Pernambucano - Olympique Lyonnais, Ligue 1 - Score: 1083
46 - Juan Román Riquelme - Boca Juniors, Argentine Apertura - Score: 1077
45 - Luca Toni - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1064
44 - David Silva - Valencia, Primera Division - Score: 1060
42 (T) - Thierry Henry - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040

42 (T) - Dani Alves - Sevilla, Primera Division / Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040

The fact that Brazilian full-back is so far down the list in Goal.com's top players of the year can only be down to the fact that he was not part of a team that won silverware last term.

Having shot to prominence with a Sevilla team that scooped five trophies in a stunning 15-month period, he and the Andalucian team were deeply affected by the death of Antonio Puerta in the summer of 2007, and then things worsened when Juande Ramos opted to leave the club to try his luck with Tottenham Hotspur.

Tactics at Sevilla did not change much under new coach Manolo Jiménez, but the team were not pushing for honours and their star waned slightly.

That is not to say however, that Alves' reputation had been in anyway harmed in a season when the club were unable to repeat their performances of the past two campaigns, and the European powerhouses were still retaining a strong interest in the wing-back's services.

Alves may have started his career with Esporte Clube Bahia Brazil, but he is widely considered as a one-club man before his move to FC Barcelona in the summer having moved to Sevilla at the age of 17 in 2002.

A loan spell with the Spanish outfit saw him make an impression on the coaches at the club, but it was his appearance the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2003 and the award of third best player made others sit up and take notice and Sevilla were quick to turn the temporary arrangement into a permanent one.

In his first season with Sevilla he made just ten appearances, but then began to flourish in the proceeding year and became a regular averaging over 30 appearances in every season since.

It is no coincidence that his attacking exploits from either right-back or right midfield made him more well known at the same time as his club were making their name across the continent as he helped them win the UEFA Cup in consecutive seasons, the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup, and the European Super Cup.

Joaquín Caparrós had seen something he liked and Juande Ramos had nurtured that raw talent and helped mould a world class player. His pace and ability to push forward and play as a winger in a similar style to Roberto Carlos led to plaudits pouring in and Alves' stock began to rise.

Goals may not have been aplenty, but his assists record and desire to become another member of the attacking unit made him a key asset for Sevilla and one that the club would ultimately not part with easily.

It is unfair to believe the hype that because he likes to push up-field he ignores his defensive duties because Alves' incredible fitness levels allow him to patrol up and down the entire right flank throughout the ninety minutes.

Alves became a hero at Sevilla for his unparalleled performances on the pitch and his ability to entertain off it and he is slowly showing the same kind of characteristics that will make him become a firm favourite with.

His superstition that he must cut his hair before big games saw him sport a series of incredible unfinished haircuts at Sevilla in the middle of one particularly difficult run of games because he knew that he could not cut it all off at once and so did in stages.

That kind of eccentricity, coupled with doggedness and determination at both ends of the field have led various clubs to try and prise him away.

Liverpool were the first in 2006, but they did not come anyway near as close as Chelsea did in the summer of 2007 when Alves' time in London helping push through a deal that many in the media reported had been completed.

Sevilla's hardnose president, José María del Nido, was not so sure and turned down no less than three bids, two of over €30 million, because he wanted Alves to stay put for the club's first ever season in the Champions League.

The Brazilian may have been irked, but he announced that he would settle down and accept the decision, even though he was not happy. Puerta's untimely death meant all talk of the Alves saga was taken off the front pages of the Spanish sports press however and he soon settled back into playing.

Despite having his dream of a big money move thwarted, Alves raised his game once again and another impressive campaign led Barcelona to make a bid that this time Del Nido could not say no to and a deal was pushed through.

 It was the transfer to a European giant that the player had been dreaming of, but while his new team shone under Pep Guardiola, Alves had trouble adapting and had to explain himself more than once in the press room.

A change of tactics and more responsibilities meant that the virtual free role he had sometimes enjoyed down the right with Sevilla had been reined in at Barça and he was having to learn a new system.

In recent weeks things have begun to pick up for Alves and he is back on course to win headlines and be considered one of, if not, the best right-backs in world football.

Should Barça win either the title or the Champions League, or even both this term, then the Goal.com Top 50 could well see the defender breach the top ten as he is becoming more and more influential with the Blaugrana.

Team Prizes: None

Individual Accolades: None

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