Why Arsenal's Bacary Sagna and Barcelona's Dani Alves Are at Career Crossroads
Sagna is locked in a contractual dispute with the Gunners and Alves has seemingly lost the Midas touch for Barça.
Both players are at career crossroads with their respective clubs and this article will look into their situations and determine if there is a viable replacement.
Bacary Sagna: Then and Now
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The summer of 2007 got off to a rough start for Arsène Wenger with Thierry Henry departing to Barcelona in a bid to win his first UEFA Champions League title.
Meanwhile, Ramón Calderón was trying to lure Cesc Fàbregas to Real Madrid, given that the former La Masia alumni was one of Calderón's three pre-election transfer promises.
Wenger's most exciting summer signing was Eduardo, the explosive Brazilian-turned-Croatian international from Dinamo Zagreb.
Not much was known about Łukasz Fabiański, except that Arsène had made an off-the-cuff remark during the season that he had three world-class keepers in his squad (Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia and Fabiański).
To which, Lehmann fired in this zinger of a quote (from the AFP via the Daily Telegraph): "Wenger has spoken of three world-class goalies. I guess I must be one of them. The others have proven their class by winning titles? I'm just thinking about it and I can't recall any."
Lehmann was not even the most disruptive player, it was Lassana "Moaning" Diarra, who was so unbearable that he was only lasted four months and 18 days.
Just quietly, Wenger had also signed Auxerre's Bacary Sagna, who was a member of the UNFP Team of the Year.
Arsène opened the door for Sagna and slammed door on Justin Hoyte's career with the Gunners. Truth be told, Hoyte was never Arsenal quality.
Sagna solidified a place in the PFA Team of the Year during his first Premier League season and went on to become one of the world's best right-backs.
What looked like an innocuous fall in an October North London derby game last year resulted in a broken leg for Sagna.
Six months later, he broke the same leg again in a game against Norwich City.
What percentage of the liability falls to Arsenal's medical staff?
Abou Diaby, André Santos, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Thomas Vermaelen and Tomas Rosický are current Gunners, who have had a history of recurring injuries.
Or, can Sagna's two breaks in the same leg in the same season simply be explained as misfortune?
Dani Alves: Then and Now
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Even as a 20-year-old, Dani Alves was soaring down the right flank and sending in incisive crosses during the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Just to throw in a random fact, the full-back on the other side of Dani was Coritiba's Adriano, who later became a Sevillista with Alves and is now teammates with him at Barcelona.
During that tournament, there were only four players who tallied up three assists or more: Abel Aguilar (Colombia; four), Alex Brosque (Australia; three), Willo Flood (Republic of Ireland; three) and Alves (Brazil; three).
Dani was an exhilarating presence for Sevilla and an unstoppable force at times. In a memorable 3-2 win over Real Sociedad, where four of the five goals were headers, Alves created the dramatic game-winning goal for Kepa.
Around the same time, Chelsea tried to short-change Sevilla, which failed, and the Blues later decided to sign José Bosingwa for €20.6 million.
By the time Barcelona were seriously contemplating about signing Alves, he had scored twice against them and his offensive productivity from right-back was already better than most of the midfielders in La Liga.
So, it was inevitable that Barça would splash out €35 million for him, bearing in mind the plan was to pair him up with Lionel Messi on the same flank.
Dani racked up four straight seasons of 15 assists or more.
In 18 games this season, he only has one assist.
From the 2004-05 season to the 2011-12 season, Alves averaged 16.9 assists per season.
Bacary Sagna's Situation and Viable Replacements
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Earlier in the month, Arsène Wenger dismissed the transfer speculation surrounding Bacary Sagna (via ESPN.co.uk):
He has one and a half years of contract to go. We are in negotiations to extend the contract and we are very positive. I don't understand the speculation. So I am quite amazed by the statements as it is quite the opposite of the feeling we have with the player and with the negotiations about his extension.
Wenger to succeed François Hollande? Arsène is the master of spin.
July 14, 2011 from AFP via ABC News:
Our goal is to win the championship and we need good players to do that. Samir Nasri has always been committed to the team and we saw that today. I'm willing to keep him for another year, even if it means we risk losing him for nothing in a year's time.
August 24, 2011 via BBC Sport:
Manchester City have agreed terms with Arsenal for midfielder Samir Nasri, with the 24-year-old set for a medical. The France international has arrived in Manchester to finalise a deal, worth a reported £25 million to the Gunners. Nasri is in the final year of the Arsenal contract he signed in 2008.
April 27, 2012 via Chris Harris at Arsenal.com:
I am confident [Robin van Persie will stay] for two reasons. First of all I want to convince him to stay here and to extend his contract. Secondly he is not free at the end of this season, he has one year of his contract left anyway.
August 17, 2012 via ESPN staff and Kevin Palmer at ESPN FC:
Manchester United have completed the signing of Robin van Persie from Arsenal on a four-year deal for around £24 million. Van Persie, 29, ends an eight-year association with the Gunners after growing frustrated with the club's direction, having won only the Community Shield and the FA Cup during his time in North London.
After suffering two breaks in the same leg within a six month period, it is understandable why Wenger is apprehensive about offering Sagna a multi-year extension.
Bacary feels slighted because he has busted his gut for six seasons, consistently being in the conversation for the title of world's best right-back, but Arsène will not rubber stamp a longer contract deal for him.
|League Only||Tackles Per Game||Interceptions Per Game||Tackles Per Foul|
Sagna's defensive output this season indicates that his two leg breaks have not debilitated his ability to win back possession.
Carl Jenkinson, Arsenal, Age: 20
The most drastic improvement I have ever witnessed. He went from being a walking liability to a confident young defender with high upside to be an elite right-back. He should be spending his time improving his crossing given that he has mishit 31 of 36 attempts in Premier League play this season.
Sebastian Jung, Eintracht Frankfurt, Age: 22
Tough and clean right-back with high possibility of a profitable re-sale value.
Dani Alves' Situation and Viable Replacements
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Is Dani Alves rapidly deteriorating? Maybe, he just needs more time having suffered several injuries this year.
The issue with Alves is not if he can defend. It is does he want to defend? Like André Santos, Dani is a strong tackler but his positional sense is beyond awful.
Now that Alves is not creating goals, there is no X-Factor from him which casts doubt over whether or not he deserves to be in the starting XI.
Whilst his compatriot Adriano's defending leaves a lot to be desired, the former Coritiba defender has scored five league goals, two of them from right-back—including this peach against Atlético Madrid—and filled in the attacking void left by Dani.
Last month, Alves admitted his recent performances were rusty (via Callum Fox at Sambafoot):
I had started well and then after the injury I have had some days without playing. When you do not play much and you are used to playing, it affects you. I am not happy with my performance. I am working to get back to full match fitness, which is the only way everything else will arrive.
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Dani turns over the ball less but his incisive passing has diminished hence why he does not have an assist in La Liga or the UEFA Champions League this season.
Once the season finishes, it will be more easier to make an accurate judgement on his future at Barça.
Martín Montoya, Barcelona, Age: 21
Imagine if his shot went straight into the net as opposed to crashing off the crossbar in a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid. It would have been an iconic El Clásico moment.
He is the heir to Dani Alves and if the Spaniard is given a chance, he will blossom like Mattia De Sciglio at AC Milan.
Cicinho, Sevilla, Age: 26
Strong, quick, lock-down full-back who will only improve as he gets more accustomed to La Liga football.
Dani Alves Replacing Bacary Sagna?
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According to Adam Shergold at the Daily Mail, Barcelona's Dani Alves will replace Bacary Sagna at Arsenal.
What a lot of nonsense.
The Gunners cannot afford the wages Alves will be demanding and the likelihood of him having a profitable re-sell value for Arsène Wenger is slim to none.
If Barça do want to say adéu to Dani, there will be suitors from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, China and the Middle East who are more likely to throw money at the Catalan giants than Arsenal.
Also, should Wenger not give Sagna a multi-year extension, which may force him to hand in a transfer request, Carl Jenkinson—who just signed a long-term deal—will be given the starting role.
Arsène will then sign an up and coming right-back like Sebastian Jung or promote via the academy which gives a kid like Hector Bellerín a chance to prove his worth.
Comment below with your thoughts on the situation of Alves and Sagna.
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