1. His contract extension is being negotiated.
2. We have made a “final” offer, that was rejected.
Everything else is up for grabs, and there has already been much discussion. I got to writing a comment that got to be pretty long, one of those “Ramzi back in the day” suckers. 😀 So it’s now a post, give people a non match review-related opportunity to call me crazy.
For a moment, let’s leave aside the philosophical objection of a player holding a club hostage. Here are my main reasons why this summer should be the time to sell, if Alves doesn’t want the piddling money that we’ve offered him.
1. His first year for us, for me, was his best.
2. Now that clubs are figuring out how to play us, his attacking instincts are making him more of a defensive liability. It’s one reason that we concede more when Abidal goes out. Our back line’s pace deficiency becomes even more so.
3. We don’t really have an aerial target, making his crosses, when they are on target these days, all but meaningless. This has been noted time and again in match review comment threads and during LiveBlogs, rarely by me.
4. He can’t seem to take free kicks any more. None of us can, but he’s the worst, and this is notable because it’s a big part of his game. I recall the huzzahs when we was signed, because it meant that in the wake of Ronaldinho, we still had someone to threaten off of set pieces. It used to be that fouling one of our guys near the box meant serious danger. Not any longer.
5. His defense has improved, but he isn’t that good of a defender, nor is he a stand-up guy who will shut down someone’s attacker. If Mourinho shifts Thong Boy to the right in El Clasic, for example, you can forget about Alves being a significant part of the offense. Some of why he isn’t that good a defender is because he’s frequently chasing the play.
Now before anyone reminds me, Dani Alves is one of the best right backs in the world who has slotted into, and enlivened our tika-taka system. He teams with Messi to raise hell, and gives us a constant offensive threat on the right side of the pitch. But look at that second goal against Villarreal, and tell me that two years ago that tika-taka sequence wouldn’t have been with Alves instead of Pedro!.
I won’t deny Alves’ brilliance, not for a second. Nor his energy, nor his value in driving the other team inSANE. But I also won’t deny that just as our system copes when he is suspended or injured, it will cope when he is gone. The attacking right (and left, for that matter) back is becoming all the rage. Look at Fabio Coentrao as one example of the modern wing back. This increasing trend makes Alves increasingly less rare and extraordinary.
Guardiola is asking him to do more, but our system is also coming to life despite his deficiencies. P!, with his increased maturity, is really opening up the right side. And with the addition (hopefully) of the likes of Afellay, not to mention what Villa already brings to the left side, it’s easy to see a system where our backs are used more as overlaps, rather than integral parts of the offense. So Abidal becomes the template on both sides, though the right-side back would get forward more because of Messi’s fondness for playing to that side of the pitch.
This contract business also makes me start to wonder why we purchased Adriano. Has he been spectacular when he was in the side? Nope. But give him reps, and what will he be? Good question. Is it hard to envision his being the kind of right back who could work in that reimagined Alves position? Another good question. He has the pace, ball skills and attacking ability to function as the right-leaning attacking mid that Alves is, in reality. Is it a question of just getting him reps? Hmmm ….
If we go out in the world, a world that contains a few attacking right backs of high quality such as Gregory Van der Wiel, who could be purchased, and still leave change after an Alves sale, what then? Lord, I’m full of questions, aren’t I?
If we are going to sell, the time is now, because you can’t just sell Alves to anyone. He’s going to command north of 30m, which greatly limits his (and the club’s) fiscal worldview. If he’s wanting Xavi money, putting him around 8m per season, that too limits who can buy and satisfy him. There are only two clubs I see who can and would: Chelsea and Citeh. Both have fairly urgent needs for an RB of Alves’ quality. Neither will be willing to wait a year for him to come. We won’t sell in January, because that’s just crazy. But this summer, if I were running the good ship Barca, the first 30m would take him home. As with The Yaya, his value is never going to be higher.
P.S. Alves could come to his senses, realize the cool deal that he has in this team with this club and reopen negotiations, in an attempt to find a compromise that will allow both sides to save face. He’s on record as wanting to stay with the club. But right now that desire is on his terms, just as the club wants him to stay on their terms. Both have a right to seek what they want. Now we see who wins this game of fiscal Chicken.
Ready …. set …. discuss!