Whenever we think of Pep’s legendary team assembled during the late 2000’s, we think of Puyol-the warrior and El Capita, Pique with his build-up play and the ball playing skills, the illusionista Don Andres with his magical feet, the control Maestro Xavi brought to the midfield, the ever reliable and highly under rated Busquets and Leo Messi (there is no point in trying to describe these with an adjective unless we invent one). But we should never undermine the contribution of one passionate Brazilian who gave his heart out for the Blaugrana.
Dani Alves for me is the one who brings out all the emotions that a man can experience. His marauding runs on the right flank and his linkups with Messi has brought a lot of joy to every Cule around the world. His casual mistakes, like his back pass against real Sociedad in the 2015-16 season that cost us a goal and eventually cost Barça the match brought anger and frustration. His flashy hair styles brought laughter and mockery. His run-ins with the board has brought surprise and awe about him. There is something that always sticks with Dani.
Speaking of titles, Dani Alves holds the record for most number of titles till date including club and country jointly with Maxwell. He is the second most capped foreign player for Barcelona only behind Messi. He has won an astonishing 23 titles with Barcelona. He has provided the most number of assists to Messi. But the one thing for me which always differentiates Dani from the others is his honesty. He was vocal in the way he was treated by the Barcelona Board which was a shame in itself.
In one of his interview with the players tribune, he talks about the epic comeback by Barça against PSG, “But when my brother Neymar scored that beautiful free kick? I jumped up from my couch and was screaming at the television. “Vamoooooooos!” And when Sergi Roberto performed a miracle in the 95th minute? Like every other Barça fan in the world, I was going absolutely crazy. Because the truth is that Barcelona is still in my blood.” In these days of political correctness, Dani always speaks his mind and is never afraid of criticism. Before the Balon d’Or 2016, during an interview with Cadena COPE he said, “Cristiano Ronaldo is not deserving of being amongst the three Ballon d’Or finalists. The best player in the world should be someone who influences play to a greater extent, and not just someone who scores goals. People forget that this is a team sport.” It’s not about insulting a player but his honesty in saying the right thing which makes him stand out.
The most endearing image in recent times that Dani left for me was in the 2nd leg of the 2016-17 Champions league match against Juve. After his transfer to Juventus at the start of the season, it was his first match against Barça, at his old home and just before kick off, he ran towards the Barcelona dug out and greeted the coaches and the players on the bench. He rejoined his 10 team-mates only after the referee had blown his whistle. There were cheers all around the ground. That is something that only Dani can think of doing and to actually go on and do it. During April, when asked whether a return to Barcelona is possible in an interview with Globo TV he said “Barcelona is my home. It’s impossible to say that I wouldn’t return. I would come back tomorrow if Barcelona were to call me.” It shows the respect and love towards Barça as a club to say these words after what he went through with this board.
I wish there could be just one last run down the right flank and a cheeky pass to Messi to finish off a goal. Just one final Dani Alves goal celebration in the Blaugrana at our ground. But maybe even that is too much to wish for. Whatever the future holds, we should always be grateful to everything Dani has given us over the years.
Dani- Gracias por todo!