Transferring from Sevilla in 2008, Brazilian international Dani Alves quickly became a favourite under Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. Despite missing the Champions League Final victory in his first year, Alves played a significant role in the Catalan’s Treble-winning season. This marked the beginning of a golden era for both the club and the right-back, who became the second most decorated foreign player in La Liga history over eight seasons.
Aged 33, the Brazilian made his move to Juventus, seemingly in search of a new challenge. However, on arrival Alves claimed his former club “have no idea how to treat players.” This resentment was behind the full-back’s move to Turin, and has cast a shadow over the upcoming quarter-final.
Alves is far from the first player to have moved between the Italian and Spanish giants.
Fellow South American Martin Caceres joined the Blaugrana during the same transfer window as Alves, although he had a vastly different experience. Despite being able to play anywhere along the back line, the Uruguayan found himself well down the defensive pecking order. After only 13 appearances over a season, the defender was sent on loan to Juventus.
In 2012 Caceres made his move to Turin permanent, where he spent the following four years serving back-up to Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini. Despite making fewer than 130 appearances in the last decade, he has won La Liga, the Champions League, the Coppa del Rey, the Coppa Italia twice and Serie A five times.
Another to have played at full-back for the Old Lady, Gianluca Zambrotta won four Scudetti in black and white (although two were revoked), before winning the World Cup with Italy. Signed in 1999 from Bari, Zambrotta was player of the same mould as Alves, equally comfortable with the offensive and defensive side of the game and with a wicked strike.
In the aftermath of Calciopoli, the right-back attracted attention from many top clubs before signing for Barcelona alongside Juventus teammate Lilian Thuram. Unfortunately, Zambrotta struggled to replicate his best form in Spain and ended his contract early, citing his wife’s homesickness as the reason behind a move to Milan.
Evidently, moving between the two clubs is no easy task, yet Edgar Davids did so with consummate ease. After an unexceptional season at Milan, Davids moved to Juventus in 1997, where he partnered Zinedine Zidane.
Blessed with a defensive tenacity that would make N’Golo Kante look pedestrian, The Pitbull’s technical prowess made him a truly rare commodity. Over six years Davids helped Juventus to win three Scudetti.
A loan move to Barcelona in the winter of 2006 came at a time that the Blaugrana were struggling, attributed to a lack of balance in a midfield that included Ronaldinho and Xavi. Davids’ arrival proved a catalyst for Barcelona’s revival, providing a defensive platform on which the attacking players could operate. Even though he only spent six months in Barcelona, Davids left a legend.
Michael Laudrup moved to Juventus when he was just 19, although due to a cap on foreign players he was immediately loaned to Lazio. After two years in the capital, Laudrup returned to Turin, slotting into midfield alongside Michel Platini and winning Juve’s first Scudetto for nine years.
Laudrup’s following two seasons were underwhelming and the Danish midfielder joined Barcelona in 1989. It was in Spain, under the tutelage of Johan Cruyff, that the player fulfilled his potential playing alongside the likes of Ronald Koeman and Guardiola.
During his five years as part of Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’, Laudrup won four La Liga titles, as well as the Copa Del Rey and the European Cup. Boasting an impressive goal tally of 40, Michelino’s elegance and artistry on the ball made him a fan favourite.
Dani Alves should take solace in the fact that he is one of few defenders whose skills have been equally applicable in both Serie A and La Liga.
Perhaps the upcoming matches should be seen not as an opportunity for the player to prove a point to his old club, but for him to become a hero at his new one.