When Juventus secured the latest star from the Porto talent conveyor belt in August 2015, they knew they were acquiring the services of the archetypal Brazilian full-back: an athletic presence who placed great emphasis on attack.
In his debut season, the marauding left-footer found himself sharing the starting berth with veteran Patrice Evra, and the rotation understandably affected Alex Sandro’s match rhythm and confidence. Evra, the wily old head who had experienced it all, featured in 26 league matches while the new addition from the Primeira Liga made a total of 22 appearances. The new acquisition was very much second choice and was overlooked for the big matches.
Fast forward to the end of his second full year in Turin and the player has made the position his own. This coincided with the departure of the Frenchman, who was granted his wish to move to Olympique Marseille in January, even though his employers were fighting on three fronts. For Alex Sandro, this would have been quite the compliment and he has repaid the Champions with a playing standard which has visibly risen this year. The 26-year-old has grown in stature, and there remains no doubt who is the undisputed number one in the role.
Of course, the Catanduva native’s front foot inclinations are well documented, but under the tutelage of Max Allegri, is now equally adept at playing in an orthodox back four or as a wing-back. For this, player and Coach both deserve a great deal of credit for the improvement in his game. Alex Sandro is no longer just a buccaneering defender, but a model of consistency who has honed the ability to defend and attack in equal measure without it hampering his forward-thinking instincts.
The Bianconeri first-teamer now offers balance, a skill which goes unnoticed in a typical Brazilian full-back and from an international perspective, he can consider himself hard done by, with Marcelo and Filipe Luís ahead in the pecking order. But, if Alex Sandro can continue in his current vein of form, his upward trajectory cannot be overlooked and the 2018 World Cup should be his target.
On the club scene, the Brazilian’s reputation continues to soar and the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea have registered an interest, so the Scudetto holders must be mindful that their talented defender’s list of suitors will only grow further.
The Vecchia Signora undoubtedly have someone who is dedicated to their profession and goes about his business in consummate fashion. With Alex Sandro’s best years ahead of him, both team and player can look forward to an exciting future together.