Cuadrado best suited to replace Alves
Dani Alves is the best right-back in the history of Barca. His 66 assists and 20 goals scored in 297 appearances for the Catalans are a testament of the Brazilian's pivotal importance during the club's most successful era. The 16 trophies that have been added to the Camp Nou museum since his debut back in July 2008, including two Champions Leagues and four La Liga titles, would simply not be there without Alves' invaluable contribution.
Having said that, the undeniable truth is that nothing lasts forever. The relentless, aggressive, unstoppable right-back he was during his peak has become a much slower, less effective and more predictable player. Unfortunately, rivals are fully aware that, perhaps due to his declining fitness or lack of motivation, Alves is no longer able to track back and defend as effectively as he used to. His passing and crossing accuracy have also suffered, as evidenced by his very poor return of only four assists in 42 games last season.
For over a year now, it has been repeatedly reported that the board's intention was to sell Alves and reinvest any money obtained to sign his replacement. Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta decided to gamble and wait until the World Cup ended to negotiate the sale, hoping that the Brazilian's performances in front of his home crowd would attract many offers from major European clubs. Regrettably, the gamble didn't pay off: La Canarinha were humiliated in the semifinals and, even worse, Alves lost his place to Maicon and had to watch the knockout stages from Luiz Felipe Scolari's bench.
Considering the major renovation Barcelona is undergoing during the current transfer window, with over 160 million euros having already been invested, many Cules would have expected the arrival of new right-back by now.
The Catalan press has been insisting on highlighting the club's interest in Juan Cuadrado since the blistering Colombian impressed the world while starring for his national team in Brazil, playing an instrumental role which helped them reach the tournament's quarterfinals. From the moment the ball started rolling, it was obvious that his pace, fitness, confidence and hunger for victory would be qualities that the current Barcelona could definitely do with.
Barcelona are reportedly prepared to make an offer of around 35 million euros to Fiorentina for the transfer of Cuadrado. As you would expect, given his obvious skill, the 26-year-old Colombian has also been linked with other front-runners such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. Considering the player's desire to further his career in a major European club, it is clear that the Italians are prepared to listen to offers and will ultimately sell the Cuadrado to the highest bidder.
The Catalan press also report that Barca would be exploring other options (including Juanfran from Atletico Madrid, Lukasz Piszczek from Borussia Dortmund and even Kyle Walker from Tottenham), but in my opinion the board should seriously consider spending their remaining budget on Cuadrado. It would be fair to say that defending has not necessarily been a key focus during his career so far but, given his huge potential and desire to continue to improve, the Catalan board should move quickly and decisively in order to bring the young Colombian to the Camp Nou.
My recent survey at Barcablog.com showed that a considerable 83 percent of Cules think Barca should keep Dani Alves even if a new right-back is signed. I disagree.
I just don't see the Brazilian smiling complacently next to Luis Enrique in the upcoming season if given a secondary role within the team. I also have doubts about his off-the-field attitude and, on a side note, whether the influence he has on Neymar is as positive as Cules would have hoped for. His annual wage of eight million euros and the fact that he would be allowed to leave for free next summer once his contract expires are other strong reasons why I believe it's time to part ways with the 31-year-old Brazilian.
Alves' departure would also help others such as Martin Montoya or Adriano grow in importance within the team. The only thing that the former is missing in order to establish himself in the first team is more playing time, as the rushed decisions he sometimes makes are often caused by trying to do too much in the very short amount of time he is given to show his worth. Adriano's worth as a deserving backup player is unquestionable, with five assists and a remarkable 10 goals in 72 appearances in the last couple of seasons.
Despite not currently having any offers for Alves, there is still plenty of time to find a suitable club for the Brazillian in order to further his career. The hope is that the Barcelona directors can surprise their many doubters and solve the last item on their plate this summer while strengthening the team at the same time.