Sure, Dani Alves can be annoying, but Barcelona is dumb to let him go

Dani Alves can be annoying. He’s a polarizing guy. We sports fans demand that our heroes toe the line at the clubs that we support, and Dani Alves is a guy who simply refuses to do so. He stands up to his club, publicly, when he feels that he’s in the right.

For example, when Barca didn’t extend Eric Abidal’s contract after the French defender came back from a liver transplant, Alves changed his number from 2 to 22 (Abidal’s number) to protest the club’s decision. The fact that Abidal later admitted that Alves offered to give him part of his liver shows what kind of person Alves is.

His very public stands aren’t just for show; he really believes them.

This angers many Barca fans who don’t like it when he rocks the boat. It also annoys the management, because he’s the only player willing to call them out in public.

His latest press conference, possibly his last as a Barcelona player, was vintage Alves. He didn’t hesitate when asked about his future, saying he had “both feet and his head outside of the club.” It’s the kind of thing that fans and management hate to hear just as the team is getting to play the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals. But Alves will never not speak his mind.

So you have to wonder how much of that attitude factors into the fact the club is only offering Alves a contract on the low, one that he is refusing to accept. Are Alves’ colorful off-field antics clouding the club’s assessment of the right back’s on-field value?

One guy who knows his true worth is Leo Messi. In the run-up to the Champions League final, he gave an interview with UEFA and said:

“He’s a very complete player, the best fullback in the world. It’s very difficult in this day and age to find a fullback like Dani. With what he has and the effort and attitude he brings to every match, these days it’s hard to find someone like him.”

Leo Messi rarely speaks in public and when he does it’s typically your standard athlete cliche-speak. There’s been a few times, however, when his comments have really shaken the club. Now that the Champions League title (and treble) has been won, will the club make Dani Alves a better offer, considering the fact that Messi’s happiness is and should be the club’s No. 1 priority at all times? It’s hard to say.

For now, it looks like the club is set to sign Sevilla’s Aleix Vidal to replace Alves (although he won’t be able to play until January, due to the club’s transfer ban).

That’s a shame.

Alves has been and continues to be a titanic player. In the modern game, when almost no team plays with true wingers, attacking fullbacks who can provide width in the final third — and intricate build up play in the middle — can mean the difference between a good team and a great one.

Juventus v FC Barcelona  - UEFA Champions League FinalGetty Images

Alves is still, probably, the finest right back in the world. He can participate in the build up like any other central midfield, and he can race to the byline like the wingers of yore. Most importantly, he’s an expert at connecting with Messi. This has never been more valuable, given that Messi has returned to playing (mostly) on the right side of the field.

Will Messi feel as comfortable connecting with Vidal as he has with Alves for so long?

Dani Alves will leave Spain after winning eight European titles (three Champions Leagues, two UEFA Cups, and three European Supercups). Only two players have more than him.

More importantly, he brought a sense of fun and passion to everything he did.

A lot of people like to hate on him, but I can’t. Barcelona is making a huge mistake.