Xavi, Laporta and Dani Alves

Dani Alves’ presentation at Barcelona (in flip-flops, as he was when he first signed for the club and he made a point of emphasizing it) was a happy occasion that brought more people to Camp Nou than even the unveiling of Xavi had done a few days previously. The club itself, which keeps a precise eye on the attendance figures because all fans were issued with free tickets to get into the stadium, counted the number of people through the turnstiles for each event: Alves beat Xavi by 10,378 to 9,422. Alves was good value during his presentation, giving the crowd what they wanted as they seek to recover their enthusiasm for Barça. And the Brazilian said something that didn’t go unnoticed: that he made such a nuisance of himself in trying to secure a return that Joan Laporta had to convince Xavi to sanction it.

There is something distinctly fishy about all this it seems to me, but we will see what is behind it at some point. Laporta was never entirely seduced by the idea of Xavi taking over as manager, which was the primary campaign promise of one of his opponents in the presidential elections, Víctor Font. Rather he was pushed into it by a groundswell of popular opinion. It can practically be said that the last Barcelona supporter to be convinced that Xavi was the answer to all the club’s problems was Laporta himself. However, that did not impede the Barcelona president from celebrating his presentation in a folkloric manner. But is has only taken a few days for us to discover that Xavi’s first signing, Alves, was brought in by Laporta, and only after he expended plenty of energy in persuading the manager.

Alves can still do a job in midfield for Barcelona

DANIEL ALVES

But the fact is that Alves is back at Barcelona, with Laporta more to thank for his return than Xavi. This is a scheme club presidents have used since the dawn of time to plant their deep throats in dressing rooms. Moreover, Alves is not eligible to play until January, ruling him out of the first expectant weeks of Xavi’s tenure. In spite of everything, and regardless of his age, I think Alves can still be a valuable addition to Xavi’s side, as a box-to-box midfielder, the role that Frenkie de Jong is still not quite fulfilling. Another matter is what benefit Laporta hopes to gain by his presence among the squad - which should be none whatsoever.