Superstar greeted by fireworks, smoke, 44,000 fans and club legends as his signs for São Paulo.
Dani Alves is a sensational signing for São Paulo and Brazilian football.
Yes, he came on a free transfer. Yes, he is now 36 years old. Yes, he has lost some pace. But he is one of the best Brazilian players of his generation. He is still at the top of his game. He was the player of the tournament in the 2019 Copa America. And he could walk into nearly any team in the world. This is a big deal.
Dani Alves has signed for São Paulo on a three year contract after leaving Paris Saint Germain. The right back, who was playing in central midfield for PSG last season and is likely to do the same for São Paulo this season (he’s been given the number 10 jersey and the club have signed Juanfran), does not consider the move as a step to wind down his career. He still wants to play at the 2022 Qatar World Cup and he wants to win things with São Paulo, the club that he supports. He told fans that they are not signing a player, but a supporter.
The fact that more than 44,000 people turned up for his presentation on a Tuesday night is very impressive. Traffic is hell in São Paulo, so getting to and from the stadium on a weeknight is not easy, and it shows just what an important occassion this was seen as by the fans. And rightly so.
The player is a superstar. He’s got more than 100 caps for Brazil. He’s played for the some of the biggest teams in the world: Juventus, Barcelona, PSG. He’s won tons of trophies: Champions League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Copa Italia, Copa del Rey, Copa America, etc. The only thing he hasn’t won is a World Cup with Brazil; injury cruelly kept him out of last year’s World Cup in Russia – who knows, maybe Brazil would have won had he been fit.
The player also mentioned how he would like to give something back to Brazilian football since he has spent nearly all of his career playing abroad (he had played only 25 games for Bahia before moving to Sevilla in 2002). That’s a nice gesture and way of thinking.
A few São Paulo club legends also turned up to greet the player on his presentation, including Raí (now a club director), Hernanes (now playing for the club), Luis Fabiano and Kaká. He also received video messages of support, congratulations and best wishes from Messi, Luis Suarez and Casemiro to name a few.
Dani Alves may have some quirky dress sense and be a flambouyant character, but he is a supremely professional player. Getting a player of this standing, level of quality and professionalism is a big deal for São Paulo.
The club has had a turbulent few years, and they really need a period of stability. They need more structure in the way they play, the way they recruit and to stick with a manager for a period of time. That hasn’t happened recently, and if it doesn’t happen in the next three years, Dani Alves will be sure to let the club’s hierarchy know his thoughts.
There are however, several reasons for São Paulo fans to feel optimistic and that the club now seem to be on an upward trend. The coach Cuca appears to be settled at the club and they have recruited well this year and they have some very good young players coming through. With Dani Alves in the ranks now, there will be an extra buzz about the place. The young players will have someone to learn from, the standards will be set high, and they will benefit from his quality on the pitch. Bring on the debut.
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