Karim Benzema: Real Madrid striker 'has everything to win' the Ballon d'Or this year, says Dani Alves
Dani Alves has opened up about a turbulent few years for Barcelona, his own future at the Camp Nou, and his controversial pick for the 2022 Ballon d’Or. Speaking to Marca in an interview published on Saturday morning in Spain, Alves discussed the changes at the club since his departure in 2016 to his return earlier this year.
Dani Alves of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga Santander match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona at Ciutat de Valencia stadium, April 10, 2022, Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Aliaga/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Barcelona legend Davi Alves has had his say on the 2022 Ballon d’Or, tipping long-term rival Karim Benzema to swoop the prestigious award.
In an interview with Marca, Alves discussed a number of topics, from the demise of Barcelona in recent years, to his own future at the Catalan club, whilst also favouring the Real Madrid icon to snap up the France Football award after an electric season leading the line for Los Blancos.
Alves left Barcelona for Juventus in 2016, before returning to the club in January 2022 after spells in France with PSG, and Brazilian club Sao Paulo.
When asked to comment on the changes at the club during this time, he said he believed the club “got carried away by the tide”.
"For me what changed at Barca is that they got carried away by the tide," Alves said.
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 01: Dani Alves of FC Barcelona with the ball during the La Liga Santander match between FC Barcelona and RCD Mallorca at Camp Nou on May 01, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
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"Football has been changing and the club mistakenly wanted to change and follow this tide. But if you have a solid base, you don't have to adapt to what comes up or [what becomes] fashion because then you will be vulnerable.
"Football has been changing and started to buy and sell, and that is not Barca," he said, hinting Barcelona should rely on the youth talent emerging at the Camp Nou, and compliment them with experienced players to make a "more solid" squad.
"That is the process of change that I have seen at Barca, and now we are trying to recover what was [there] before."
Alves’ contract will run out in June, and potentially see the end of his second spell at the club.
The Brazilian defender, 39, insists he still tries to live "intensely" day to day without giving it much thought.
"What is certain is that I would like to continue because here I am at home, I am in the club, and in the team for which I have had to fight for five years to return to.
"And I think I can continue contributing things for them, but it doesn't depend on me. And I'm not too worried either. My mission was to come here and show what I can contribute.
"I'm not one of those who think that for my whole career and for everything I've won I don't have to prove anything to anyone, no. I always think I have to prove my worth. I can't do anything else but give 200 percent to the club I love and love madly."
Alves - who became the most decorated player in world football after winning gold with the Brazil team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics - admitted it was up to the club to decide his future.
“I know where I am in my life and my career, but I also know what I have inside. And I think the one who doesn't have me loses. I raised that level not of arrogance but of self-knowledge.
If Barca wants me to renew, I'm delighted. If they don't want to, thank you very much, and I will continue to defend this club to the death wherever it is."
Despite his recent comment about defending his club, Barcelona, to the death, Alves’ pick for Ballon d’Or will come as a surprise to some of the Blaugrana faithful.
He tipped Benzema to win the award, after the Frenchman contributed to Real Madrid’s La Liga title and route to the Champions League final with 43 goals in 43 games across all competitions, succeeding former teammate and close friend Lionel Messi as the current holder.
"He has everything to win for what he is doing," said Alves.
"But the Champions League is going to have a lot of influence. If he wins it, he's a serious candidate, though there are other names as well. At City, at Liverpool... there are players who can fight for it.
"He is earning it, because he has taken Real Madrid to places that it was not before in terms of play and other facets.”