The news today that Brazilian full-back Dani Alves is to reject a new contract at Barcelona has sent the rumour mill into overdrive. The 31-year-old has been linked with a move away from the Nou Camp for well over a year, but now, with his agent all but declaring that his client’s time in Catalonia is up, the defender could finally be on his way to the Premier League.
But to which club?
Fast, powerful, strong in the tackle, and with an amazing penchant for joining the attack; Dani Alves would be an excellent acquisition, for any club. At 31, his career is starting to wind down, but he still has a good three years left in him, which is exactly what it will take to lure the defender according to the aforementioned agent.
With his contract almost up, his transfer fee would be minimal, with his wages surely the only stumbling block, with Alves reportedly on €7m a year since signing a contract extension in 2011.
Here we take a look at the Premier League’s ‘big six’, and assess the likelihood of the Brazilian turning out for them next season:
Current right-backs: Mathieu Debuchy, Héctor Bellerín
The Gunners are, with Frenchman Debuchy fit, quite well stocked. Héctor Bellerín has enjoyed a superb breakthrough season with Arsene Wenger’s side, with summer signing Debuchy putting in some excellent early season performances before injury.
The real situation here is not Dani Alves to Arsenal, but rather, Bellerín back to Barcelona. Spanish publication Sport recently carried out a poll to determine the fans’ choice for Barca’s right-back next season, with 20-year-old Bellerin coming out on top with 12% of the votes.
Alves himself actually won the poll by a landslide, with 62% voting for a contract renewal for the Brazilian. They might not get what they wished for.
Likelihood of a bid: 1/5
Current right-backs: Branislav Ivanovic
The Blues have enjoyed a stellar season in the Premier League and are on the cusp of winning their second trophy of the campaign. However, with a number of their first team suffering from fatigue or a loss of form in the second half of the season, it is conceivable that Jose Mourinho will look to bolster his squad in the summer, with right-back a potential area to strengthen.
There are few who would argue against Ivanovic being the best right-back in the league, but other than the Serbian, Chelsea are a little bare. Cesar Azpilicueta, originally a right-back, has been installed permanently on the left side, with Filipe Luis the only other out and out full-back.
Ivanovic is rarely injured, such is the nature of human tanks, but is it worth taking the risk with the defender approaching his 32nd year. Dani Alves is a typical Mourinho wide player, both rampant in attack and relentless at the back. Alves and Willian on the right side would be quite something.
But you to have play Branislav. Would Alves be content with a place on the bench?
Likelihood of a bid: 2/5
- Manchester United
Current right-backs: Antonio Valencia, Rafael
Now we’re getting somewhere. Louis van Gaal, quite bizarrely to some, failed to adequately strengthen his back line in the summer. Instead, the Dutchman decided to splash the cash going forward, with mixed results.
It pretty safe to say that, with the like of Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett often called upon this season, Van Gaal won’t be making the same mistake twice.
Dani Alves has been linked with a move to Old Trafford over the years, and it’s this writer’s opinion that the club mentioned cryptically by the Brazilian’s agent as having offered his man a three year deal is United.
Antonio Valencia has done admirably at full-back this season, giving, as he always does, 110%. But he has cost them points, and will still be more uncomfortable there than a natural defender. Rafael is pretty much finished, so the path looks clear.
Likelihood of a bid: 4/5
- Manchester City
Current right-backs: Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna
The reigning Premier League champions haven’t had it easy this season. A run of four straight away losses has seen them slip to fourth, and all but out of the title race, with a number of their current squad really not cutting the mustard.
A clear-out is in order, but right-back is not much of a concern. Those who don’t think Chelsea’s Ivanovic is the best around will largely be Zabaleta fans, with the Argentine a wonderful all rounder. Former Gunner Sagna is more than an able deputy, with Manuel Pellegrini’s mistakes this season including a rotation policy that dislodges form.
The last thing they need is another right-back.
Likelihood of a bid: 1/5
Current right-backs: Glen Johnson, Javier Manquillo
A lot of the talk surrounding Liverpool at the moment is concerning the growing Raheem Sterling saga, and specifically, how they still can’t compete with the likes of United and Chelsea for players.
Would Dani Alves go to Liverpool? They sure do need him.
Glen Johnson hasn’t been any good for years, with a good percentage of the Anfield faithful actively disliking the England man (Sport’s poll for Alves replacement generously included Johnson, but he accrued just 2% of the votes).
Loan man Manquillo hasn’t featured much, with a permanent move unlikely. If Brendan Rodgers is looking to bring in some stars, he could do a lot worse than Dani Alves. The question is, could the Brazilian do any better?
Likelihood of a bid: 4/5
Current right-backs: Kyle Walker, Eric Dier
Like with Liverpool, it’ll surely take a lot for Spurs to lure Dani Alves to White Hart Lane.
Not to say they can’t do it, and glancing at their available players at right-back its clear they could do with him, but the biggest hurdle with be negotiating with the player and his agent, persuading them to turn down other offers, and take his place behind the likes of Eric Lamela in the lineup next season.
A bid may come, but I can’t see it going through.
Likelihood of a bid: 3/5
What do you think? Will Dani Alves hit English shores next year? Who’ll pick up the phone and lodge a bid?