It was an emotional return to the Roman Sanchez Pijuan for Dani Alves on Saturday evening, with the Barcelona right-back taking to Instagram after the match with Sevilla to thank fans for giving him a warm welcome back to the club he served for six years. He would leave the home of his former club full of nostalgia as he was reminded of the past, but it is the matter of the future that now concerns the Brazilian as the dispute over his contract situation rumbles on.
Alves has rejected what is said to be Barcelona’s final offer of a contract extension according to his agent Dinorah Santana; a deal that reportedly stretched from one year to three depending on whether he played in 60% of his side’s games each season.
“He would accept three years, but it is not a three-year deal, but a one year,” said Santana, who also announced there was a better deal on offer elsewhere. “Dani has a concrete offer on the table for a three-year deal plus the option for an extra year with a better wage than he has here and a signing on fee.”
It is unclear which club has offered that contract but Alves has been linked with Paris St Germain and Manchester United with both clubs willing to commit to the wages that Barcelona are not. United have reportedly issued an ultimatum for Alves to decide by the end of April whether he fancies a move to Old Trafford, but according to Radio Marca in Spain the 31 year old has already signed the €9 million salary on offer from PSG.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has refused to give up on his club’s chances of retaining Alves, saying negotiations are being conducted in private. “In Alves’s case, the matter is not closed. If Alves accepts the deal we have offered him, then he will stay at Barca” said Bartomeu, “everyone has their own strategy. Ours is discretion and a final statement announcing a deal.” However Santana is more brisk with her opinion on where talks currently are. “The negotiations are over,” she said.
What makes this saga so curious, as his agent mentions, is the question of why Barcelona have left it so late to open talks with Alves who, with 35 appearances so far this season, remains an integral part of the squad. It is a query that takes on further intrigue when you factor in how the Catalan club, currently under a transfer embargo which bars them from signing players until January 2016, will have to go half of next season before they can sign a replacement.
Even though Alves’s form has dipped somewhat over the course of this campaign, something his outspoken agent attributes to the uncertainty caused by the contract impasse, the Brazilian remains very much first-choice. Alves played the full 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Sevilla on Saturday, the latest in a run of games that has seen him play in both legs of the Champions League second round tie with Manchester City, as well as the recent 2-1 El Clasico win over Real Madrid.
“Seeing out his contract in the best possible manner”, typical of Alves, the Brazilian will play in this week’s Champions League quarter final with PSG, his potential new employers, and his importance to Luis Enrique’s team as they aim for a treble clearly hasn’t depreciated with age. He is the paradox of being one of the first names on the team sheet while simultaneously being half way out of the Nou Camp exit door.
The transfer ban has already seen them miss out on Porto’s Danilo, who will head to Real Madrid in the summer after they took advantage of their rival’s forced inactivity to seal a €31.5 million move, and attention has now moved to Torino’s €15 million-rated Matteo Darmian, among a host of others, as the search for a replacement is underway. However Enrique will be aware that if Alves does leave, he will begin the season without a top level right-back to immediately fill the gap.
If the idea is to promote from within then it is been so far unconvincing. 23 year old La Masia graduate Martin Montoya has made just 6 appearances this season as an alternative to Alves at right-back while Douglas Pereira Dos Santos, signed from Sao Paulo last August for €4 million, was given a torrid time in his La Liga debut against Malaga in September and has only been trusted with 3 Copa Del Rey appearances in the time since. There doesn’t appear to be a stand-out option to inherit the right-back slot from Alves straight-away and if there is, Enrique doesn’t trust them.
It threatens to be a huge act of folly and naivety on Barcelona’s behalf if Alves does leave Catalonia and given the blunt message from his agent, that does seem likely to be the case. Barcelona will lose 16 trophies and 331 appearances if they lose Alves, a level of experience and dressing room influence they will find hard to replace even with vast sums of money.
Furthermore, they will have to wait another 6 months before embarking on that task in one of the more bizarre contract situations.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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