Euphoria gone? Why Dani Alves has problems with Sao Paulo

Dani Alves (36) played in Europe for 17 years. When he returned to Brazil in August, signed a contract with FC Sao Paulo, he was celebrated frenetically in the stadium by tens of thousands of fans. The Selecao captain is a hero in his home country.

A good month later, the veteran has at least partially sobered up. Sao Paulo is only 6th in the league, ten points behind Flamengo. Alves made a dream start, scoring the 1-0 winning goal in his first home game against Ceare Sporting Club. The traditional club, however, was left without a win four times in the end.

In an interview with TV Globo, Alves spoke about his new role and Brazilian football. He said: “It’s very difficult to play here, and often the condition of the pitch is a reason for it”. The long-time Barça star continues: “When I played in Europe, I once said that I can’t watch a game of the Brazilian league until the end because there is no rhythm and no quality. Now I’m getting to know the reasons myself.”

Dani Alves plays for Sao Paulo – unlike his clubs in Europe – not as a right-back, but in the central offensive midfield. A role he likes: “I made it very clear here at Sao Paulo: I have to influence the game in order to create opportunities for my teammates. He knows that he has to change. That’s exactly what he wanted: “I also have to adapt to my teammates. I’m willing to pay the price for not playing in the position I’ve played for the last 20 years. I’m here to build something.”

The experienced player wants to lead his team to success as a director: “I am a combination player, I can help my teammates if I have control over the game, over the ball. There I can give the game the dynamism I’m used to. I can participate more in the game, position my teammates, take care of the tactical organisation.”

Alves joined FC Sevilla in 2002 as a 19-year-old from Bahia. Six years later he moved to FC Barcelona. He celebrated his greatest successes with the Catalans, including winning the Champions League three times. In 2016 he went to Juventus Turin, a year later to Paris St-Germain.