Signing Dani Alves proves Paris Saint-Germain making progress in rebuild
PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain are set to complete the signing of right-back Dani Alves on a free transfer after the Brazilian international passed his medical in the French capital on Tuesday.
Alves was largely expected to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City after playing for him for a number of years with one of his former clubs, Barcelona.
However, PSG launched a late charm offensive to bring the former Juventus defender to Parc des Princes -- and it worked. Now he is expected to sign a two-year contract with the recently dethroned Ligue 1 champions.
On the face of it, the signing of a 34-year-old right-back should not be celebrated by a club that aspires to make up for disappointment in Le Championnat and the UEFA Champions League last season, not to mention attaining ultimate continental success, but Alves' signing represents so much more than the arrival of a veteran defender.
First of all, the man from Juazeiro is still a capable starter at the highest level and proved that by helping Juventus to last season's Serie A and Coppa Italia titles, as well as the Champions League final.
Alves will bring vast experience to Unai Emery's squad but he will also be able to challenge the likes of Thomas Meunier and Serge Aurier -- assuming the latter stays in Paris his summer -- for a starting role.
The presence of captain Thiago Silva and Marquinhos as Emery's central defensive pairing of choice will make it easy for another Portuguese speaker to adapt in PSG's backline, while the club's strong Brazilian contingent will make Alves feel at home immediately.
Also, Alves is the ideal player to make up for the loss of Pepe to Besiktas. If anything, the former Sevilla man offers the same intense winning mentality but more on the pitch in an attacking sense.
Granted, PSG do not necessarily need another attack-minded right-back with Meunier already there and doing an underrated job. However, the Belgian international is not the one who is likely to make way for Alves in the squad.
Instead, it will almost certainly be Aurier who is granted a summer departure and if that happens, replacing the Ivory Coast international with the South American will be a wise -- albeit short-term -- move.
Aurier's unprofessional antics away from the pitch have long undermined the good he can do on it and a change of scenery will likely rejuvenate the Ivorian and help him to salvage something of the rest of his career.
Indeed, the most impressive thing about PSG's successful late swoop for Alves is what it says about Antero Henrique's arrival as sporting director and his appointment of recently retired Maxwell as his assistant.
Both men worked tirelessly to persuade the Brazilian to move to Paris. Although Pepe's move to Turkey and Thiago Motta's drawn-out contract renewal have shown that Henrique can be a stubborn character when it comes to getting value for money, he and Maxwell have now proved they can sell the PSG project to in-demand players and fight off stiff competition.
Henrique and Maxwell deserve immense credit for getting this deal done and it represents a moment of maturity for the club as it continues to become better structured and serious about its own project once again under Henrique.
With an influential player like Alves at PSG, other talented and ambitious players -- particularly Brazilians -- will be more interested in the project than they were before. Further smart business from Henrique and Maxwell will only build a stronger reputation.
Alves' arrival could make Aurier a useful bargaining chip in the pursuit of a central defender such as City's Eliaquim Mangala or Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario -- even if Monaco's Fabinho remains the priority.
Smart transfer deals such as this one enable PSG to keep most of their transfer budget intact and if they can show similar intelligence in other positions, they could still make one mighty splash when needed -- possibly in attack or attacking midfield.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.