Brazilian right back Dani Alves has been one of the stars of world football for a number of years now, having joined Barcelona from Sevilla back in 2008 in a £30m deal. After over 300 appearances for the Catalan giants and 20 goals, the 31-year-old has been one of the driving factors in the evolution of the full back.
Always looking to bomb forward and get involved in the attack, Alves has always been credited for being outstanding going forward but also susceptible defensively. Now, with new Barcelona manager Luis Enrique looking to change the dynamic of his side, Alves has confirmed to Brazilian newspaper O Globo that this will be his last season at the club - and he will be heading to the Premier League.
"Next year I move to England. I'm playing in the cradle of football. This will be my last season at Barca - confirmed," Alves is quoted as saying.
With Arsenal having recently signed Mathieu Debuchy, Chelsea already having Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic and Manchester City strong at right back with Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta, it seems to only leave two realistic avenues - Liverpool and Manchester United.
Liverpool did bring in Javier Manquillo on loan for two seasons from Atletico Madrid, but with Glen Johnson's contract set to expire next summer, Brendan Rodgers may want to bring in an experienced right back - and Alves, on a free transfer, makes perfect sense; particularly if the Reds snap up his former Barcelona team mate Victor Valdes too.
Meanwhile,Manchester United may have embarked on a £150m spending spree with Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao all arriving at Old Trafford, but United still have defensive frailties. Rafael has been inconsistent at best in recent seasons, whilst Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have both performed better at centre back than at right back.
With Louis van Gaal's recent 'Galactico' style transfer policy, bringing in a world-renowned star like Alves makes some degree of sense. Van Gaal has used systems with full backs and wing backs, where Alves fits in perfectly. Some believed that Fiorentina's Juan Cuadrado would be brought into play that role, but no deal materialised.
At 31, Alves may not be the long term solution to United's defensive woes, particularly with his own deficiencies, but on a free transfer, Alves and United may be a perfect fit.