[OP-ED]: Like good wine, Dani Alves improves with time
Neymar’s signing by Paris Sant-Germain made the headlines of every media outlet last summer. The eyes of every soccer fan were also focused in the wild movement that took the Brazilian star away from Barcelona and sent him to France’s capital.
A little more than two months have gone by and keying in the on-the-field results we can conclude that PSG’s best acquisition was not Neymar. It was his countryman Dani Alves.
Despite Neymar being sanctioned and his constant brawls with Uruguayan Edinson Cavani about who should take the free kicks, Paris’ squad leads with ease the French league, four points ahead of champion Monaco and seven over third-place Lyon. PSG, which has nine wins and two ties in 11 league outings, has won its four Champions League contests, clinching already a spot in the round of 16.
To learn the reason behind the huge success the team coached by Spaniard Unai Emery is recording this season I just needed to watch PSG’s last league game. The Parisians earned a comfortable home victory, 3-0, against an uncomfortable opponent like Nice, led by veterans Mario Balotelli from Italy and Wesley Sneijder from The Netherlands. From his right fullback position, Dani Alves led all PSG charges and participated in the three goals, joining the attack from the right wing, the middle and even entering the opposing box when needed.
I believe Alves is one of the most underrated players in planet football. It is true nobody doubts his great level, but he should be included amongst the World’s Top 5 and he is not. At 34, Alves, like good wine, keeps improving with time. Since his arrival in Europe signed by Sevilla for less than one million dollars, he has won wherever he has gone. The Brazilian led the squad from Andalusia to two UEFA crowns and one Spanish King’s Cup title before being transferred to FC Barcelona for more than 35 million dollars.
Of course, Leo Messi and the great midfielders dominated the focus of Barça fans. But we need to keep in mind Alves was a member of the Catalan club’s best ever team, which won six Spanish Leagues, four King’s Cups and three Champions League. Always hurt by not getting the same attention –financially and by the media- of his star teammates Alves finally made a move and headed for Italy landing in Torino to provide very positive impact to Juventus since his arrival. With the Brazilian ruling the right win Juve conquered again the Italian League and Cup championships and reached the Champions League final game, eliminating in the way FC Barcelona in a very sweet revenge for Alves.
After spending only one season in Italy, as Neymar, the fullback accepted a huge offer from Paris Saint-Germain. Alves made his debut on July the 29th, registering a huge victory over Monaco, 2-1. He scored one goal and assisted in the other one, earning the game’s Most Valuable Player honors.
PSG has big aspirations this season, trying to take Europe’s supremacy from Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona. To do it, the French squad will rely heavily in Alves. In Russia 2018 Brazil will follow the same formula as it fans dream to be back at the top of planet football. Alves will be 35, but if he keeps his progression he will be in the best moment of his career looking to conquer the only championship he has never won: the World Cup.