‘I’m here to be positive’ – Dani Alves feelgood factor returns to Barcelona | Barcelona

Dani Alves went up the steps and into the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel, the place he stepped previous a mat positioned on the fringe of the Camp Nou pitch with Johan Cruyff’s most well-known instruction written on it. “Go on the market and revel in it,” it stated, as if Alves wanted telling. Oh he was going to take pleasure in this, all proper. That, in spite of everything, was what he was here for – a part of the explanation he had rejoined Barcelona 5 years later – they usually couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face if they’d tried.

On the white line, Alves paused and slipped off his flip-flops – sure, flipflops – and stepped on to the pitch barefoot. He wished to really feel the grass, he stated. Within the stand above, 10,378 individuals roared and he laughed, which he did rather a lot. Sporting a black polo neck, a black velvet jacket and nothing on his toes, he took the microphone and, wanting up at all of it, cackled like Sid James. The Dani Alves present was again on the town, they usually have been loving it. “Alves! Alves! Alves!” they chanted.

He paraded backwards and forwards, bowed and waved and pulled faces and cracked up, an environment of celebration round him. It may need been a bit foolish, and it was pure to wonder if a 38-year-old free agent who hasn’t performed for 5 months can actually rescue Barcelona, particularly when the membership’s chief government, Mateu Alemany, admitted there was no cash to signal anybody else, however possibly they want a little bit of that. “Lately they’ve loaded destructive issues on to their shoulders,” Alves stated. “It’s time to change and also you want to be optimistic. That’s my mission here.”

And so it went, till he signed off together with his personal twist on the standard rallying name: “Lengthy reside Barça! Lengthy Dwell Catalonia! And lengthy reside the mom that gave delivery to you all!”

Dani Alves embraces Barcelona’s club president Joan Laporta
A barefoot Dani Alves embraces Barcelona’s membership president Joan Laporta. {Photograph}: Thiago Prudencio/DAX/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock

He insisted “I’m one in every of you” and, nonetheless barely believing this was occurring, kissed the pen with which he was invited to signal his contract, desk and papers ready on the pitch. That contract begins now, though he can’t play till 1 January, and runs out on the finish of the season, however the 2022 World Cup is his goal and Alves stated that in these six months he would do what he may to persuade the membership to lengthen that deal. “If I fail, I’ll pack the suitcase myself. ‘Ciao!’” he stated.

That was not all he signed or kissed. He signed the billboard together with his Warhol-style picture on, doing so with a smiley face, and he kissed the shirt after all. On the again was an eight, the fifth quantity he has worn here after two and 20, 22 in honour of Eric Abidal, and 6 in honour of Xavi Hernández, the previous teammate who’s now his supervisor. That could be a pattern he stated he was persevering with. “I imagine in paying homage to individuals whereas they’re nonetheless alive,” he insisted, citing Hristo Stoichkov and Andrés Iniesta and bringing one other cheer, extra kisses.

“The final time I had this microphone, I stated the dream wouldn’t finish there,” he informed them. “That’s why I’m here once more.”

Why, was the query. What may Alves provide? “I may need a bit much less hair however some issues by no means change: the spirit, the battle, the soul,” he stated within the press room, darkish glasses added to his outfit, however nonetheless no sneakers. He additionally reckoned he was extra good-looking now and claimed that he had been so “pesado”, such a ache, continuously calling Joan Laporta and providing to play just about totally free, that in the long run the president handed him on to Xavi to do away with him. “And when Xavi known as and stated they may do with my assist, I didn’t need to hear the rest,” Alves stated.

As a lot of the main target was on the persona because it was on the participant, and Alves talked about what he may do off the pitch, about “concord” “synergy” and a “dressing room [that] is best with me in it”, about how he may change the tradition on the membership, returning them to the way in which they have been. The person who has extra winner’s medals than anybody else recommended “these of us with extra kilometres on the clock” may assist the youthful technology, pointedly speaking up Ousmane Dembélé. And when it got here to sending footballs crusing into the higher tier, he had failed thrice, guffawing because the photographs fell quick.

Dani Alves (left) in action for Barcelona in a Copa del Rey match against Athletic Bilbao in May 2015
Dani Alves (left) in motion for Barcelona in a Copa del Rey match in opposition to Athletic Bilbao in Could 2015. {Photograph}: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Photos

However it didn’t matter. And for all that the character is a part of the allure, for all that the showmanship and nostalgia was unavoidable – requested whether or not Lionel Messi may come again too, Alves replied “give me a few hours and I’ll go and get him myself” – there has at all times been a seriousness about him, an iron competitiveness. And he insisted that has not modified. “Lifting cups is what’s actually particular,” he stated.

Since Alves left in 2016 Barcelona have spent €85m on right-backs, and none has adequately changed him. “I’m particular,” he stated. He was laughing however he was proper, simply as he was when he stated that “generally here it’s not sufficient simply to be an amazing participant”. There was one other glimpse of that ambition in his refusal to meekly settle for the idea that he’s here to play a pastoral position, nonetheless much less a secondary one. Or that his place could shift.

“I come to play as a full-back,” Alves stated. “However I can do different issues and if you put a restrict on what you are able to do, it reduces your possibilities. My focus is the group. Xavi will resolve. I’m coaching as a full-back, working to win my place. Not due to what I did earlier than however what I do now, to earn the appropriate to put on this shirt. Many issues in life change however the need doesn’t. I’m coming here to battle. I do know what this membership represents. If all of us pull in the identical course this boat will attain the port sooner.”

Requested whether or not he anticipated to be a back-up choice, he shot again: “I wasn’t born to be second. I’m not here to go the time, simply to reside in Barcelona. I’m here to go to conflict. I’m here to battle to play. Not due to my historical past or as a result of I’ve a great relationship with the coach, the president or the membership, however due to my work. Age is only a quantity. There are many older gamers at a really excessive degree and that’s my goal. I confirmed that on the Olympics. Folks anticipate the very best of me and I’m going to reply. I’d like to thank everybody for coming here and I can assure I received’t allow them to down.”

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