Dani Alves has returned to Barcelona as the first signing of Xavi Hernandez’s tenure as manager.
Yes, that means Sergiño Dest has a new teammate — a legendary one, at that — who plays the same position as the 21-year-old USMNT right back, but it could prove to be a hugely impactful event in his development.
At 38 years old, Dani Alves isn’t returning to Barcelona to be the star man or to play more than one game each week. Instead, it’s been reported that Alves will serve as unofficial liaison between Xavi and what is predominantly a young, unfamiliar squad of players currently in way over their heads. Alves will be eligible to play for Barcelona when he is officially registered at the start of January.
His immense experience — the 23 titles he has already helped to win at Barcelona, including three Champions League trophies, six La Liga titles and four Copas del Rey — is matched only by Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets (30 trophies each) among the current squad.
“I knew within my heart and within my soul that this day would come. See you soon with the same desire to help rebuild the best club in the world!”
For Dest specifically, it’s a chance to see firsthand the way Dani Alves works every day and soak up any and all advice he wishes to impart (it sounds like he’ll be an open book to anyone and everyone who asks).
While Dest isn’t (currently) anywhere near the player that Dani Alves was at his peak, there are plenty of similarities in the way they play right back. Like Alves, Dest loves to bomb forward and join the attack; as such, both players were dubbed poor or unwilling defenders early in their careers. With a little help from Dani Alves, perhaps Dest will also be remembered fondly one day (for his work on both sides of the ball) at the Camp Nou.