Dani Alves Shows That Age Is Only a Number

When Dani Alves arrived in Paris last summer, many viewed the 34-year-old as a pawn in Paris Saint-Germain’s quest to land Neymar Jr. Ultimately, Alves and the club’s ploy to bring the FC Barcelona star to the French capital was successful. Soon after, the loan of Kylian Mbappé shook the football world and the free transfer of Alves became an afterthought. Fast forward to a few months later and the right-back is displaying the form that made him a success at his previous clubs and he’s proving that age is nothing but a number.

During the 2014-15 season, Alves played for Barcelona where he performed at an elite level for the Catalan club. In 30 appearances, he registered 88 percent pass completion, 40 chances created, 34 key passes, and 6 assists. All this offensive firepower didn’t lead to a decline in his defensive duties either. Alves was able to keep his errors to a minimum (5) and he recorded 44 interceptions. As great as this season was, the wheels began to fall off the following years as it would mark the beginning of the end for him at Barcelona.

In his final season with the Spanish outfit (2015-16), Alves saw the majority of his career statistics begin to take a dive. His chances created went from 40 to 21, key passes dropped from 34 to 17, and his assists fell from 6 to 4. With Alves being in his 30s and beginning to slow down, Barcelona had no issue in letting him go after eight years of service. At this point, it seemed as though his European career would come to an end.

The Brazilian could have taken his ball and went home or gone to Major League Soccer for one last payday but Alves didn’t want his final season at Barca to become the lasting memory of his club career. Instead, he decided to look for another club and show that he still had something left in the tank.

Revival at Juventus

After an ugly departure with Barcelona, Alves was able to land on his feet with another European powerhouse in Juventus FC. After signing a two-year deal, Alves began his road to redemption to show he was still one of the best right-backs in the world. In his lone season in Turin, Alves saw his numbers progress to their usual status. In 19 appearances in Serie A, Alves completed 85 percent of his passes while having 31 key passes and creating 33 chances on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive end, he only had one defensive error along with 29 interceptions and 15 clearances.

Furthermore, with Juventus, Alves would show that he can contribute at an elite level against the best clubs in Europe. In 12 UEFA Champions League matches, Alves completed 87 percent of his passes along with 27 key passes and 31 chances created–all numbers that mirrored his production in Serie A while also playing in seven fewer matches. On paper, a player entering his mid-30’s while coming to a new league and country is a recipe for disaster. However, Alves became an anomaly as he took this new opportunity to revive his career.

With Juventus, Alves showed how valuable he is to a club, and Barca would find out first hand in last season’s quarter-finals of the Champions League. After dispatching AS Monaco in the semi-finals, Alves found himself in another Champions League final, however, Juventus couldn’t defeat Real Madrid to complete the resurrection of his career. After showing he had a lot left in his tank, Alves and Juventus mutually agreed to part ways even with a year remaining on his contract.

Ressurection Continues In Paris

Over the summer, Alves had a decision to make: either join his former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City or aid Nasser Al-Khelaifi to land Neymar and build something special in Paris. Ultimately, Alves went with PSG where his former Barcelona teammate would soon follow. Although perceived as a pawn to bring Neymar, Alves is showing that he is more than that. His production is why Unai Emery can comfortably sit Thomas Meunier without hesitation, which is not an indictment of Meunier.

In nine Ligue 1 matches, Alves is continuing his post-Barca resurgence with 15 chances created, 11 key passes, and a pass completion rate of 89 percent. To add to his pass completion, 65.9 percent of his passes are forward, pushing the attack for PSG.

Alves isn’t only showing up against Ligue 1 competition. He understands the pressure PSG is under and is putting up numbers against Europe’s best. Through the group stage, Alves has created 12 chances along with 12 key passes. His pass completion percentage sits at 88, so he’s made contributions offensively. In their most recent match versus Celtic FC, Alves showed his passing abilities along with a scoring touch.

In sports, there’s a stereotype attached to players when they cross over into their 30s. Usually, fans and clubs speculate when they’ll fall apart so they can insert their younger replacement. Then there is someone like Dani Alves, who didn’t receive the memo of riding off into the sunset. After his departure from Barca, Alves has rediscovered his form with Juventus and now PSG and appears to be on a mission to win one more Champions League trophy.

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Posted by Eduardo

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