Dani Alves would be steadying force for City, like Patrick Vieira before him
Given how influential Dani Alves was in getting Juventus to last season's Champions League final, a move for the full-back by Manchester City makes total sense -- even if he's in the twilight of his career.
At 34, he's clearly not going to be Pep Guardiola's long-term option, but given his experience playing under the City manager at Barcelona and his top level ability on and off the ball, a reported £5 million fee would hardly represent a risk. In this day and age, it's actually a bargain.
City are currently without any full-backs, making the position Guardiola's next priority for the summer. With the chase for Tottenham's Kyle Walker proving a little more difficult than expected, snapping up Alves in the interim would be a canny move.
Landing Alves doesn't completely alleviate the pressure to sign another wide defender, since the veteran couldn't be expected to play the whole season as the club's only option, but it does get City halfway to a solution.
Even if Alves takes time to settle into the Premier League, his understanding of the manager's approach will be crucial for City to continue adapting to Guardiola's style. The transfer would benefit the club both on and off the pitch.
One of Guardiola's biggest frustrations during his first season at the Etihad involved the defense's failure to respond to his demands. On the ball, they often looked panicked, especially when pressed by opponents. Off it, they looked incapable of taking up a good position to receive it. When asked to defend, they looked ridiculously fragile without captain Vincent Kompany on the pitch.
The wide areas were the biggest issue, even if it was the centre-backs who took the most flak. Neither flank was strong or consistent enough for City to successfully execute their game plan, which resulted in Guardiola having to compromise his style after a humiliating 4-2 loss at Leicester in early December.
By the end of the campaign, Fernandinho had been asked to deputise at right-back -- even with Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna fit -- while Gael Clichy was almost forced to flounder on the left after Aleksandar Kolarov moved inside to centre-back.
The defense was a mess that urgently needed attention. In releasing Zabaleta, Sagna and Clichy, City have made their intention for this summer clear, and while their pursuit of Walker and Monaco's Benjamin Mendy is ongoing, Alves is a major upgrade when set against the departing talent. While he played with Juventus last season, his role in Turin was just as prominent as it had been at Barcelona, and he showed no signs of slowing down. He worked tirelessly up and down the flank for the majority of the campaign, causing commentators to voice their confusion about why the Catalan giants chose to release him on a free transfer.
Targeting Alves echoes the rebuilding job that Roberto Mancini did on his arrival to City in the 2009-10 season. After inheriting the bare bones of a decent team from Mark Hughes, the Italian quickly added Patrick Vieira as one of his first signings.
While the midfielder was by no means a key man in the team, his presence had a noticeable effect on the side. He brought with him a winning mentality, and was instrumental in helping Mancini reshape his team's mindset. It took the Italian a season and a half to transform City from a team of also-rans into cup winners.
Alves could do the same for City under Guardiola, helping the manager revolutionise a team that's become a little stagnant in the last few years.
The move wouldn't come without risk, however. There would be pressure on Alves to settle in quickly and play well, especially after his criticism of the club ahead of a tie between City and Barcelona in 2014. That didn't endear him to the fans, many of whom still hold a grudge, and underperforming certainly won't help his cause.
Alves won't be accustomed to the pace and intensity of the Premier League. However, he's proven he's an adaptable player with great tenacity and strength, and his experience working with Guardiola will only help him.
If City can make Alves their third signing of the summer, they're well on their way to building a formidable team for next season -- especially with other targets very much still on their radar.
David Mooney is ESPN FC's Manchester City blogger. Twitter: @DavidMooney