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Dani Alves: "Neymar had to step out of Messi's shadow..."

The PSG full-back was interviewed by and spoke about the Champions League: "It’s our main goal. It’s what excites us, gets our adrenaline pumping".

Alves celebra un gol con Neymar.

Dani Alves is someone who always speaks his mind and has left us with some wonderful soundbites over the years. Who can forget this chestnut: “Football is full of hypocrisy, jealousy and false friends.Those in power at Barcelona right now have no idea how to treat their footballers properly”, in an interview with ABC last year which served a mighty blow to the Catalan club's image. Today, published an interview with the Paris Saint-Germain right-back in which he spoke about Neymar's arrival at PSG and the team's ambitions in the Champions League, in which they take on Real Madrid in the first of their two-legged Last 16 tie, on 14 February...

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Time to move on and look for fresh challenges

What made you decide to move to Paris Saint-Germain, a club with less in the way of history than Barça and Juventus? “That was the biggest motivating factor when it came to making the decision. I don’t like to stay in my comfort zone - I enjoy a challenge, and the chance to change the club’s history was an adrenaline rush for me. That’s the reason why I came. And then there was the fact that I’d be living in a great city and coming to a team with lots of ambition. I know people might think that I went for the money, but that’s not the case because I had lots of other really good offers. In fact, I went through the same process with Barcelona. The club was going through a transitional period when I arrived and I ended up being part of the best team in their history. I want to experience that same kind of joy again, but in a place with less tradition, where you can lay a large stone in what they’re building. I want to win here and help the club change its destiny”.

Influence in convincing Neymar to join PSG: “I hardly had anything to do with it, though I was involved when he signed for Barcelona. I gave him some advice and told him about all the good things I’d experienced at the club and in the city. But it wasn’t like that this time. It was just a case of me getting here before him; though there was a moment when he was unsure about what to do. I just told him to follow his heart and be happy. That was the only advice I gave him”.

Thiago Silva, Kylian Mbappé and Dani Alves in training in Saint-Germain-en-Laye earlier this month.
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Thiago Silva, Kylian Mbappé and Dani Alves in training in Saint-Germain-en-Laye earlier this month.CHRISTOPHE SIMONAFP

Playing alongside Messi "an incredible experience"

Is Neymar prepared to become the best player on the planet? “I think he’s up there with Messi as the most influential player in world football. The thing is, he had to come out of his shadow a little. Playing with someone as unique as Leo is the most incredible thing that can happen to you but there’s always that doubt in your mind if it’s you that really has the quality - or if it’s him. I always loved playing with him, but he’s Argentinean and we're Brazilians. Sooner or later we had to come up against each other... I think you’ve got a better chance of achieving things individually when you’re not so close to a player like him. It was important for Ney’s own development and for Brazil for him to follow his own path".

PSG dreaming of conquering the Champions League: “That’s what we’re setting our sights on - it’s our main goal. It’s what Neymar was thinking when he left Barça and it’s what I was thinking when I left Juventus. That’s what moves us, what excites us, and gets our adrenaline pumping. The world belongs to the brave. If you’re not brave, you’re always in the shadows and that’s not where we want to be. We had nothing in Brazil and we wanted to make something of our lives. You need more than big names to win a competition like the Champions League. You can have great players but if you don’t have a team you’re not going to make it. We’re ready to compete, and the question of whether that preparation leads us to victory or elimination is going to depend on how we work as a team”.


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