After Barcelona’s 4-0 win against Espanyol in the Barcelona derby, all things look well. Yet as with every team, there is room for improvement.
The starting lineup that La Blaugrana fielded is stronger than any other in the world. But the fact of the matter is that Brazilian right-back Dani Alves is no longer deserving of his starting role for the club.
Since joining Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008, Alves has been regarded as the best in the world at his position. But things change, and football is no different.
The days of Dani Alves being the world’s best right-back are now coming to an end.
His ability as a player is certainly above most in the world. In fact, Alves could continue to play world-class football for a few more years. However, the starting spot at Barcelona might not belong to the Brazilian for much longer.
Before we begin allow me to say this. Dani Alves has been one of the best performers over the last few years and has been vitally important. This article will cover why at this present moment he is not deserving to be an automatic bid at his position.
In fact I still believe that Alves is the best right-back in the world, he is just not showing it lately. Alves must step up if he is to remain the starter in the future.
Many factors are involved in my reasoning as to the need for a new role for Alves at the club. In this article we will take a look at why Dani Alves no longer deserves to be a permanent starter.
The Brazilian is currently 29 years old. His age is catching up to him, and most full-backs begin their career decline around the age of 30.
Playing full-back the way Alves does requires great speed and agility. He loves to get forward in attack, but his age is slowly causing his ability to drop off—more on that in the next slide.
The hard truth is that Alves is not getting any younger.
His time at Barcelona is coming to an end, due to his age. But not only should the age of Alves lead fans to expect his decline, it is already being seen through his form and injuries this season.
Luckily, Dani Alves has never been a player to suffer many injuries. The Brazilian has never really missed extended time during his long career.
But the injury bug has caught Alves in the current campaign.
The first major injury occurred in October, when the defender was forced to miss three weeks due to a thigh injury (via ESPN).
But surprisingly enough, November also saw Alves face substantial time on the sideline after he picked up a muscle injury (via ESPN).
It is obvious that Alves’ body can no longer handle the day-to-day pressure he puts on himself. Alves would thrive as a role player for the club, but is now a liability as a full-time starter.
As mentioned in the previous slide, there is one glaring issue which the club must address soon: The form of Dani Alves is quickly dropping.
It is hard for fans to state, and even harder for the player to admit himself, but Alves is showing this season that he is not the player he used to be.
The speedy Brazilian has yet to string together multiple impressive performances.
La Blaugrana count on every player pulling his weight in the system, and Dani Alves no longer looks dominant throughout a match. His defending used to be merely suspect, but is now the weak point in the Barcelona back line.
But it is not only the defending of Alves that is becoming a problem.
Alves is known for his ability to get forward and link up with his teammates. Yet his attacking runs have not amounted to much this season.
His crosses are rarely meeting teammates—or staying in bounds, for that matter. And the link-up play of Alves has not been at the same level of his past seasons at the Catalan club.
It is time for Barcelona to realize that the form of Dani Alves is not what it used to be. The club may already understand that fact, as Tito Vilanova has shuffled his position a lot during the first half of the season.
One of the main reasons why Barcelona should no longer rely so much on Dani Alves is the fact that there are other options at the club.
At this point in the season, Brazilian utility man Adriano is playing better than Alves. If this were any other time in Adriano’s career, the notion of him taking the spot from Alves would be insane, to say the least.
But the Brazilian is having the greatest season of his career. Adriano has scored five goals in league play and has played a vital role in nearly every game he has competed in.
If Barcelona wants to continue attacking from the back, Adriano is simply a better option at this point. His runs and goals have been immensely better than those of Alves, and the team appears to click more when Adriano is going forward.
However, Adriano and Alves are roughly the same player in defense. For Adriano to take over, it would all be due to offensive output.
The main reason that Dani Alves deserves more time on the bench is because of his understudy, Martin Montoya. The time has finally arrived for the 21-year-old.
Alves can do little to stop the progression of Montoya, who is quickly coming into his own. Unlike Alves, Martin Montoya is a much better defender, while still being a solid contributor offensively.
When watching the Catalan defender, it is clear that he is an exact replica of his Brazilian counterpart.
But not only is Montoya a much better defender, he also has much room to improve at only 21 years of age. Montoya will continue to get better and could eventually become the best right-back in the world.
The club will be looking to give more time to the La Masia graduate to prepare him for his future as the starter. But the future may have already come. For him to receive more playing time, Alves must receive less time.
If anything, the two should at least split time until Montoya is ready to become the permanent starter next season. Either way, Alves’ starting spot should vanish.
Let us put aside looking into the future: The fact is that Montoya is currently a better player than Alves. Martin Montoya is quickly making his case to become the new right-back for the Spanish national team, which is a feat in itself.
If there is anything Barcelona fans understand, it is the importance of the Barcelona academy. Martin Montoya is a La Masia graduate who has proven he is ready to be the next star to rise from the academy.
If he does become the first-choice right-back, Barcelona could finally field a regular starting XI all from La Masia—a dream finally realized for La Blaugrana.
Dani Alves deserves all the praise in the world for what he has meant to the club over recent years. It is very difficult to claim that he should not be an automatic name on the team list.
In fact, Alves could easily take his place as the absolute starter by stringing some performances together. He has all the ability to take back his position. But at this present moment, Montoya is more deserving of the minutes.
Is Alves still deserving of his starting spot? Is Montoya ready to take over? What of Adriano? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.
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