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Barcelona: when will Dani Alves make his debut for Xavi's side?

Barcelona coach Xavi has approved the return of his old teammate Dani Alves to Camp Nou, but the Brazilian may have to wait until January to play.

Barcelona: when will Dani Alves make his debut for Xavi's side?

Dani Alves is set to return to FC Barcelona five years after leaving Camp Nou for Juventus, but club sources have told AS that when the relevant paperwork is finalized, the Brazilian will not be able to play for Xavi’s side until January 2022. Despite having a place open in the squad following the departure of Miralem Pjanic for Besiktas, Alves rescinded his contract with São Paulo in mid-September, when the Brazilian and Spanish transfer windows had already closed. As such, and despite the 38-year-old being a free agent, Alves cannot be registered with LaLiga until the next window opens in January.

Another option Barcelona will not be able to use on this occasion is placing a player on the long-term injury list with LaLiga in order to register Alves, as the Camp Nou did with Martin Braithwaite in 2020 when Ousmane Dembélé was ruled out for the remainder of the season. In those instances, under Liga regulations, only a player from the Spanish leagues can be inscribed, meaning that if Sergio Agüero is ruled out long-term after suffering a heart arrythmia during the game against Alavés, Alves could not take his place in Xavi’s current squad.

Barcelona adopting the Vidal, Arda approach with Alves

Even so, Barcelona have been in this position before. In 2015, Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan joined the club during the summer window when Barça were under a FIFA sanction, meaning the two new arrivals were unable to make their debuts for the side until the start of 2016. Joan Laporta and Mateu Alemany see the incorporation of Alves as important as much for what he can bring to the side on the pitch as for his influence in the dressing room and as a mentor for the younger players coming through from La Masia, such as Gavi and Nico González.

With that in mind, the Barça board are intent on sealing the deal as quickly as possible and giving Alves two months to train with the squad and achieve peak fitness before making his debut in January, possibly in the Liga fixture against RCD Mallorca on 2 January.