No one said replacing Dani Alves was going to be an easy task, in fact some would argue that it’s one of the toughest things to do in the game. Barcelona let him go on a free transfer a few seasons ago and never found anyone who could adequately replace him, and that’s a club who likes to think that they can replace almost anybody if they wanted to.
There aren’t many right-backs who can do the job that Juventus want, as well as being available at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
The Bianconeri have targeted Real Madrid’s Danilo, the same man that Real Madrid thought would in fact be their answer to Dani Alves! The Merengues shelled out €31.5m for him in the summer of 2015 and his performances over the last two seasons have earned him the status of ‘flop.’
When the Old Lady makes a signing, it usually has a lot of logic behind it. Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic, Alex Sandro and Dani Alves were all coming off the back of brilliant seasons and you could see why Juve would part with large sums of cash for them, but with Danilo that’s simply not the case.
He has been called one of “Real Madrid’s worst signings in recent years” and “the David May of Madrid,” which aren’t exactly glowing reviews, but Juventus are confident that Max Allegri can bring the best out of Danilo and a return to the form that saw him break into the Brazilian national side at the age of 20.
Dani Alves was never the most reliable at tracking back, but he looks like prime Paolo Maldini compared to Danilo, who had nightmare games in defeats to Sevilla and the infamous 4-0 Clasico against Barcelona. Constantly caught out of position and trying to steal the limelight, it was one embarrassment after another. His debut season ended with a curious statistic: he’d played every minute of every Real Madrid defeat.
It’s probably no coincidence that in 2016-17, Zinedine Zidane’s side suffered a dip in form during Dani Carvajal’s injury problems, which is when Danilo was allowed back on the pitch. He was unsurprisingly nowhere to be seen in the 4-1 Champions League Final victory over Juventus in Cardiff.
Yet it’s Alex Sandro that may well be responsible for the call from Turin. Not directly, of course, but his influence is all over this decision. The pair are good friends from their time together at Porto and a reunion would help stave off the growing interest from Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.
It’s also worth looking at how Alex Sandro has developed since arriving in Serie A for €26m in 2015, the same summer that saw Danilo go to the Bernabeu. He too struggled with the responsibilities of defending and attacking down the flank, but benefited enormously from the tactical discipline of Italian football and, midway through his second season, was strong enough to push Patrice Evra on to the sidelines.
Danilo could follow much the same path with a patient Coach like Allegri and time on the training ground with old hands like Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
Would Juventus be wise to use a non-EU place in their squad for a gamble like Danilo? There are only a handful of right-backs in the world who can improve the current side.
One player who would suit them, cost a fraction of what Danilo does and wouldn’t take up a non-EU place is Ricardo Pereira of Porto, who has just spent the past the season on loan at Nice. Pereira only has a release clause of €25m and would allow Juventus to search for another non-EU player, in particular Douglas Costa, and is probably a better fit for this Juventus side.