Paris Saint-Germain announced their first high-profile signing of the summer with the unveiling of Dani Alves who arrived on a free transfer from Juventus FC and it was a surprising move for a number of reasons.
First, the former Barcelona defender was expected to reunite with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City but PSG swooped in and offered him a two-year contract with a reported €260,000/week salary–double what City were willing to give him. Alves is one of the best–if not the best–right-backs in football but at 34-years-old, the contract length and amount appears ridiculous on the surface. Age and money aside, from a football point of view, the move is a curious one because it means Unai Emery has three world class right-backs at his disposal with Serge Aurier and Thomas Meunier already in the ranks. It’s clear why many are questioning PSG’s new sporting director Antero Henrique and his assistant Maxwell, but Alves could prove to be the player who leads the club deep into the UEFA Champions League and possibly win it.
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) July 12, 2017
To win the biggest trophies you need players in your squad who are used to winning and Alves’ resume is impressive. He instantly becomes the most decorated player in the locker room with three Champions League trophies and six La Liga titles to his name. He’s a no-nonsense type of defender who has competed against Lionel Messi in training for years and knows what it takes to shut down the best players in the biggest games. He’s exactly what PSG need after inconsistency plagued their 2016-17 campaign. Pepe was going to be that player but the deal fell through due to injury worries and what was likely going to be a reduced role with Les Parisiens.
Alves’ winning mentality was on full display at his unveiling where he declared his intrigue in the PSG project and his family’s love for the city. He also threw some serious shade at the blue side of Manchester with this quote:
If Pep Guardiola and Manchester City feel hurt, I am sorry…I have come here to be a champion.–Dani Alves, FourFourTwo
It’s true that Alves only started 15 Serie A matches last season for Juventus but that’s part of the beauty about this signing. Emery doesn’t need the Brazilian to defeat FC Nantes in Ligue 1 or FC Basel in the group stages of the Champions League. Aurier (if he remains with the club) and Meunier are more than capable of starting and performing well in most of PSG’s matches. Instead, I imagine Alves will start vital Champions League matches as well as come off the bench to add a spark during those uninspiring performances that became commonplace last season.
Focusing on the Champions League ties PSG have lost in recent years, it’s obvious Henrique believes the key to advancing past the best in Europe is to improve the defense. You can disagree and say a solid back-up striker or another attacking wing player is more important but Henrique is the one pulling the strings. By signing Yuri Berchiche to compete with Layvin Kurzawa and drastically overpaying for Alves, the former FC Porto executive is making a statement about where he thinks PSG needs the most improvement on the pitch. Pairing Alves with compatriots Thiago Silva and Marquinhos along the back line is a stroke of genius and his versatility to move into the midfield if needed could pay huge dividends.
Alves’ age and wage bill are all anyone wants to talk about but his talent and winning mentality will be a great asset to PSG as they enter a pivotal season. If he helps guide the club into the the semi-finals and beyond of the Champions League, I doubt anyone will care about either talking point.