Dani Alves: 5 Reasons the Barcelona Full-Back Is in for a Stellar Season
Dani Alves couldn't have asked for more.
It's a level of performance that the player must be looking to maintain right across the season to ensure that the right-back position remains his own.
Bleacher Report's very own Tre Atkinson argued back in January that Alves no longer deserved to be a starter, whereas another Bleacher stalwart Sam Tighe correctly identified the player's defensive qualities during the Confederations Cup.
Clearly, Alves still divides opinion.
Let's take a look at why this author believes the Brazilian is in for a special few months.
World Cup Year
There can be no easier motivation to provide your best efforts at club level than an impending World Cup.
To be part of a Selecao that could lift a record-breaking sixth World Cup trophy just adds to the allure.
No further seduction is necessary, but another added bonus for Alves is that the 2014 edition pitches up in his home country.
As Brazil showed to an adoring public during the Confederations Cup, they are more than capable of playing entertaining—and winning—football.
The victory gave the whole nation a lift, and you can be sure that Alves will want to be a part of something similar next year.
Although he doesn't have too much to concern himself with at the national level presently, given his age, this could well be the right back's swan song for the national team.
Luis Felipe Scolari isn't known for sentiment either—as noted by B/R columnist Christopher Atkins—so Alves simply cannot allow his form to drop at any point during the season if he wants to be a certain starter in the tournament.
One Last Big Move?
Alves will be 31 by the time La Liga finishes next year, and one last big-money move might well tempt the Brazilian before he ends his career.
Whilst he remains happy at Barcelona for the time being, he has made plain his displeasure at the treatment of his friend Eric Abidal by the club.
Stefan Coerts of Goal.com reports Alves as saying to RAC1:
Abidal's exit was a very unpleasant surprise.
The decision to release him really annoyed me after all he'd gone through and done.
The entire situation leaves a bit of a bittersweet taste.
He will have completed six successful years in Catalonia come seasons end, winning everything in the process.
As far back as 2012, the player himself left the door open for a future move (per Skysports):
They did talk to my representatives about the possibility of a move but that was low because my price is very high and they quickly moved on to talk to others...
One never knows what the future holds and if one day Barca no longer want me then who knows?
PSG is one of the great teams and the door is still ajar.
Martin Montoya's evolution is the best thing that could happen to Dani Alves.
As with Gerard Pique in the centre of defence, up until recently, Alves has had no real genuine worry concerning competition for places in his area of the pitch.
Montoya showed in brief glimpses last season that he can offer the team a more stable defensive option than the attack-minded Alves, so expect to see the Spaniard keeping the Brazilian on his toes throughout the campaign.
Alves will need to eradicate certain basic errors, such as moving inside and leaving the "back door" wide-open—identified by Inside Spanish Football.
However, the knowledge of a willing, able and younger deputy breathing down his neck should ensure Alves' full concentration in that part of his role once more.
His attacking intent shouldn't be curtailed completely either.
A Barcelona attack with Alves to the fore brings extra width, dynamic and a crossing ability par excellence—all fundamental and necessary attributes to oil the cogs down the right side.
Gerardo Martino has got everyone at Camp Nou excited.
The loss of Tito Vilanova from his managerial post now seems little more than an unfortunate blip, so seamlessly has the Argentine taken to his new role.
Martino has stamped his authority all over this Barcelona side with a minimum of fuss and fanfare.
B/R's Guillem Balague alludes to the same here.
Although Levante weren't the strongest of opposition, the way in which the Blaugrana dismantled their opponents left observers harking back to the early stages of the Pep Guardiola era.
The forward pressing was back, the urgency was there and the desire had returned—Martino has each player hungry again, and that is a precious commodity for a football manager.
Alves will do well to service his manager's needs accordingly. If required, there will be no hesitation from the bench to switch around personnel if it's for the good of the team.
The Consummate Professional
Professional players are paid to be just that—professional. In every aspect.
With the astronomical wages paid to today's talents that should be a given, and Barcelona continue to set the highest standards both on and off the field.
One of the fittest players in world football, we marvel at Alves' almost boundless energy and will-to-win.
You could certainly never accuse this Brazilian workhorse of not earning every penny of his salary.
Name another defender who would be rampaging forward in the last minute of a match with his team already winning by five goals!
Away from the football pitch, the Brazilian leads a happy and settled home life.
Girlfriend Thaissa Carvalho and his two children, Daniel and Victoria, keep him grounded and away from the bright lights and partying of compatriot Ronaldinho—dropped by Luiz Felipe Scolari for the Confederations Cup and unlikely to feature in 2014 despite his stellar club form.
Alves only needs to take that thought into each game to keep reminding himself that a fall from grace is never too far away if standards are allowed to slip.