What the hell were Barcelona thinking in letting Dani Alves go?

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Dani Alves JuventusGetty


Like Andrea Pirlo, Dani Alves is demonstrating for Juventus that there is plenty left in the tank even if his previous employers were content to show him the door.

Alves suspected that Barcelona were trying to shuffle him off the books and replace him with a younger model even before the club were hit with a transfer ban in 2014.

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It was only when it became apparent that they could do with a reliable pair of legs through that difficult period that Barca gave Alves a prolonged deal and even that was on reduced wages.

It was a huge mark of disrespect to a world-class player who served Barca with great distinction during eight seasons at Camp Nou. He won 23 major trophies and – second to only Lionel Messi – was Barca’s best player throughout Pep Guardiola’s time at the club.

He was given away to Juventus for nothing without the kind of farewell we have come to expect for the best and brightest talents. To compound the folly in allowing the relationship with Alves to disintegrate, Barca have been woefully incapable of replacing him.

Aleix Vidal was signed to take over but has rarely been of the required standard while academy prospect Sergi Roberto has been filling in as best he can. Neither – it is fair to say – are fit to lace Alves’s bootlaces.

Dani Alves Juventus Monaco Champions League

"The people who run Barcelona have no idea how to treat their players,” he told Spanish news outlet ABC earlier this season.

"During my last three seasons I always heard that Alves was leaving but the management never said anything to me.

"They were very false and ungrateful. They did not respect me. They only offered me a renewal because of the FIFA transfer ban.

"That's when I played their game and signed a renewal, which included a clause that allowed me to leave for free a year later.”

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That is how the man who among his honours won two trebles for Barca came to end up in black and white. He could be set for another.

Juve are champions-elect again in Italy – for a sixth time in a row – and are due to face Lazio in the Coppa Italia final next week. After tonight Alves is relishing the prospect of yet another Champions League final to boot. What a statement this is for the man deemed toxic by Barca’s top brass.

It must be admitted that many feared for Alves’s long-term prospects when he suffered a broken leg in a Serie A match in November but he has bounced back to become Juve’s most important player in the latter stages of the Champions League.

How sweet the quarter-final victory over Barca must have felt as he marked Neymar out of both matches. He was the best player on the field over two legs against Monaco in these semis.

Dani Alves Juventus Monaco Champions League
Dani Alves Mbappe Juventus Monaco Champions League

Alves delivered two pin-point assists in the first game in Monte Carlo. The first was an intuitive back-heel which allowed Gonzalo Higuain to roll the ball in. The one he delivered to Mario Mandzukic here in Turin in the second leg bore semblance to the one he laid on for Higuain’s second goal last week. It was a deep, accurate cross to the back post which facilitated a straightforward finish.

Just before half time he had his own say. Danijel Subasic punched the ball to the edge of the box while clearing a corner and Alves smashed a volley beyond the reach of the Croatian. Juve were home and hosed.

It is not only for his attacking contributions that Alves deserves to be lauded. Juve have conceded only one goal in the Champions League since beating Sevilla 3-1 in November. Alves has featured in five and four-man backlines across this season, as well as a right winger in a 4-2-3-1 system. He has demonstrated  his versatility and has rarely been found wanting.

Recently Juventus have made a reputation as the best team in the world for free transfers. Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Sami Khedira all arrived from rival clubs around Europe for nothing while even the one that didn’t make the grade in Turin – Kingsley Coman – has turned the club a tidy profit.

If Pirlo is now regarded as the best transfer of all time then Alves surely won’t be far behind. This may well be the week of his 34th birthday but the veteran right back is showing how badly Barcelona erred by letting him go.