Dani Alves has left behind a giant pair of shoes to fill for the heir to his right back position. Barcelona have sounded off Portuguese Cedric Soares as one of the potential replacements to the Brazilian’s spot in the side.
Dani Alves was a loyal servant to the Blaugrana serving for eight years featuring in an all-conquering Barcelona side that took home 23 trophies during his stay at the club. An indispensable part of the club’s defence, Alves has left a huge hole for Luis Enrique to fill this summer. Rumoured to complete a move to Juventus amidst interest from numerous other clubs, Barcelona have already begun marking a number of potential replacements to the Brazilian right-back and the latest to join that list is Southampton’s Portuguese International, Cedric Soares.
The 24-year-old arrived at Southampton from Sporting Lisbon last summer and has impressed in his debut season at St. Mary’s, playing a pivotal part in the Saints’ keeping 13 clean sheets last season. The Mirror claims that the Blaugrana are keeping tabs on Cedric, having sent a scout to watch over his performance during Portugal’s 7-0 win over Estonia.
The likes of Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin and Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta feature in Luis Enrique’s wish-list as the Catalans intensify their search for a right-back with the potential to match or even upstage Dani Alves’ achievements at the club. However, with Hector Bellerin announcing his interest to stay put at Arsenal at least for the short-term future, Barcelona will have to check him off the list and scout other possible options.
Is Cedric a viable alternative to Hector Bellerin?
Hector Bellerin has had a terrific season with Arsenal enroute their run up to a 2nd place finish in the Premier League, coming at the back of a break-through 2014-15 campaign for the Gunners. The La Masia product has been viewed every bit the perfect fit for Dani Alves’ shoes but more importantly, Barcelona’s incessant pursuit of the defender begs the question, is he the only suitable option they have? To answer that question, let’s address the role of Alves in the Blaugrana set-up and analyse how both Cedric and Bellerin compare with the Brazilian.
Alves’ pace on the ball, overlapping tendencies, ability to operate as a winger in addition to carrying out his defensive duties and his crossing proficiency are all part of what made him an integral part of the side. With a fiery attack, experienced midfield and full backs with the ability to influence play, like Jordi Alba and Dani Alves do, Barcelona like to attack and dominate the game on all fronts.
The comparison above throws light on how Cedric is a more defence minded full-back as compared to Hector Bellerin who thrives on pace and likes to make runs forward. From a statistical point of view, Cedric will help provide more defensive stability in his area of the park but will not provide the offensive edge that a full-back in Barcelona’s system is expected to possess. In a 4-2-3-1 system at Southampton, Cuco Martina has been preferred over Cedric as the latter provides more attacking edge to his playing style than Cedric does and even sits second fiddle to Vieirinha in the national side.
Barcelona have a defensive conundrum on their hands this summer in trying to replace a club legend of Alves’ stature and Cedric most certainly doesn’t prove to be an immediate fix. The Catalans also have a Spanish option in the form of Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta to look up to should they miss out on his country-man Bellerin. It will be interesting to see who Luis Enrique will bring in this summer. Only time will tell whether that replacement will turn out to be quite as successful as the legendary Dani Alves was.