After a hugely successful eight seasons at Barcelona, iconic right-back Dani Alves will leave the club in the summer. TheHardTackle looks at three candidates to replace the Brazilian at the Nou Camp.
Dani Alves has decided to call time on a legendary Barcelona career spanning eight seasons — a period which saw the club win three Champions League crowns and six La Liga titles among numerous other trophies.
Speaking to the media regarding Alves’ departure, Barcelona’s sporting director Robert Fernandez stated, “It was a decision made by the player and one that we respect. We have Aleix Vidal and Sergi Roberto who can play as right-backs.”
That being said, manager Luis Enrique would be weighing his options in the window and would be looking for a player who will have a similar impact as the outgoing Brazilian had at the club.
Here are three players that may fancy a move to the Catalan giants in the summer.
The speedy Arsenal full-back has enjoyed the best season of his career with Premier League side Arsenal. He has been one of the first names on the teamsheet for Arsene Wenger, developing himself into one of the most consistent right-backs in the league. Rightly so, Bellerin was the only Arsenal player to make it into the PFA Team of the Year, a just reward for his memorable season with the Gunners.
More than offering resilience at the back, Hector Bellerin’s abilities further down the pitch are worth taking note of. Constantly on the back of opposing full-backs, Bellerin is capable of overlapping wingers and tracking back if a counter-attack is on the cards thanks to his searing pace. The Spanish full-back is also a calm and composed figure on the ball, showing tremendous signs of maturity at the tender age of 21.
If the La Liga champions were to sign him, Bellerin would be ahead of Sergi Roberto and possibly even Aleix Vidal in the pecking order, and it would also give him an impetus in his quest to be the first-choice right-back for the Spain national team.
However, the Daily Star states that Barca’s bid for Bellerin has been rejected by Arsenal, claiming that the player is not for sale. Given the funds the Spanish club have at their disposal, a lucrative offer may tempt Wenger to think otherwise.
Héctor Bellerín: Completed more successful dribbles (63) than any other defender in the Premier League this season pic.twitter.com/RaJr8RhBI8
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 31, 2016
Much like Hector Bellerin, Valencia’s 22-year-old right-back Joao Cancelo prefers to complement the attack by making surging runs up and down the right flank throughout the course of the game. His jaw-dropping dribbling abilities have caught the eyes of many Spanish spectators. According to WhoScored, Cancelo has averaged 2.4 interceptions and 2 clearances per game in his 28 appearances last season for Valencia.
Cancelo is also part of the shortlist that features Hector Bellerin and Sevilla’s defensive stalwart Mariano Filho. With Arsenal and Sevilla both unlikely to be interested in listening to offers for their respective defenders, Luis Enrique’s options may be very limited.
Joao Cancelo has zero experience at the international level, but his composure as well as footballing intelligence may work wonders at the Nou Camp.
Gregory van der Wiel
A name that has been on Barcelona’s radar for the last couple of seasons has been that of PSG full-back Gregory van der Wiel. At 28 years of age, the Dutch defender is vastly experienced, and with the likely departures of two veterans in Alves and Javier Mascherano, Barcelona may consider Van der Wiel as a legitimate transfer target.
According to WhoScored, in his 16 Ligue 1 appearances this season, the PSG man has an impressive pass accuracy of 89.8%. Compared to Bellerin and Cancelo, Van der Wiel boasts impressive defensive stats by averaging 3 interceptions and 2.4 tackles per game. If Barcelona are looking for a safe and experienced buy, then Gregory Van der Wiel could be the first name that comes to their mind.