Right back is one of the areas of concern for Tottenham Hotspur this summer, and a new name has emerged out of the wilds of the transfer window speculation as a target for Mauricio Pochettino. According to football journalist Duncan Castles, Spurs have made contact with the representatives of Brazil captain Dani Alves, a free agent who most recently played with PSG.
Castles was speaking on The Transfer Window podcast and mentioned Tottenham as a possible destination for the 36-year old as he searches for a new club in what would almost have be the last stop in his long and successful career.
“As far as I understand [Alves] doesn’t have a formal contract offer from Barcelona yet. I’m told that he also has major clubs interested in him in Italy. He definitely has the option to return to Brazil and play for one of the top clubs there for the next few seasons.
But if he’s going to stay in Europe, he has a long held ambition to play in the Premier League. I understand there’s been contact with Tottenham Hotspur about the possibility of Dani moving there in what would seem a strange addition for Tottenham given that this is a club focused on younger players whose values will increase, players whom they can get on generally cheap salaries.”
Right back is a problem area for Spurs at the moment, and could become more so as the summer goes on. Spurs currently have three right backs and all three of them have been linked with moves away from the club — Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier on permanent moves, and Kyle Walker-Peters potentially on loan. None of those moves have come to fruition but it speaks to a potential future where Spurs would have players such as Juan Foyth, Moussa Sissoko, or Eric Dier getting major minutes out of position next season.
In that sense, a short-term deal for Alves makes a certain amount of sense. Spurs have already missed out on the prospect of signing Max Aarons from Norwich, and while they are also linked with Stephen Sessegnon from Fulham he almost certainly is not a first choice option for a Champions League club. Alves is 36 years old and has probably lost some of his blistering pace from earlier in his career, but he’d probably step right into a starting role at Tottenham and would be playing at the highest levels of the sport immediately.
And while Castles is correct that it would at first glance appear to be an odd signing for Spurs who tend to favor young and up-and-coming talents, it’s not the first time Pochettino has signed an older player for his experience. Fernando Llorente didn’t make a huge splash at Spurs but you’d have to say his important Champions League contributions and experience have more than justified his transfer fee. Alves’ wages would probably be on the high side, but a cursory Googling suggested as of 2015 he was making £120k/week at PSG which isn’t especially onerous considering Spurs’ new wage structure.
Also, Spurs are clearly focusing on fixing their midfield this summer, and the available players at right back are pretty bleak at the moment. It would make a certain amount of sense to consider a player like Dani Alves as a temporary band-aid at that position as an attempt to kick the can down the road for a season or two.
Alves will have his choice of where to play, as Castles said, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll want to come to Spurs. Tottenham also aren’t the only Premier League club that are interested in him — there are links with Manchester City (Pep Guardiola worked with Alves while both were at Barcelona) and probably others. However, if Spurs are serious about selling one or both of their starting right backs this summer, it opens up a spot and the possibility of some serious minutes in the Premier League, something that might appeal to Alves.
Last season, Alves played 2200 minutes for PSG, with 3 goals and 8 assists across all competitions, though primarily in a midfield role. Still, not too bad for an old man. I have no idea if Castles is correct about Spurs’ interest or if Dani Alves would even be interested in coming to north London to play under Pochettino, but it’s an interesting option for a genuine world superstar who isn’t quite ready to hang up his boots yet.