Paris Saint Germain star Dani Alves, who has lifted more trophies than any other active player, has told Sky Sports why he turned down a reunion with Pep Guardiola and how he almost ended up playing for Jose Mourinho.
It was the summer of 2007 before Alves had joined Barcelona or even met Pep Guardiola when he was close to join Chelsea and work under Jose Mourinho.
“I didn’t go to Chelsea because of the club, not because of me,” he says. “I don’t know if he got different information, that I didn’t want to go or whatever, because since then our relationship hasn’t been so good, but it wasn’t my fault. I was convinced that I was going to work with him and form part of his team.”
Within a year, Dani Alves had signed for Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.
“I remember the first chat we had,” Alves says of Guardiola. “From the first moment, he made it very, very, very, very, very clear what he wanted and why had taken the job. He had a tremendous desire to do something different as a manager of that club. Obviously, it was going to be a challenge, but I remember he said, ‘I can only do it if you follow me.’ It didn’t turn out too badly for him, eh?”
Dani Alves made more than half of his 391 appearances for the club in that period, but the architect of I all was Guardiola, the man for whom, in Take the Ball, Pass the Ball, Alves says he would have jumped off the top of the third tier of the Nou Camp.
“Guardiola improved me a lot as a footballer, he taught me a lot of things and that’s why in every interview I’m asked I always say the same thing: He is the best manager that I have worked with,” he says. “He is a genius at key moments. He knows how to let his players know exactly what they should be doing. On many occasions, he was a manager who won us matches. We just had to follow his instructions.”
Guardiola was not the only friend, that Alves had in Barcelona, Lionel Messi was the other one.
“I did all I could to serve him, to make sure he was happy and to make sure he had the ball all the time, which is what he loves most,” explains Alves. “It’s like a child when you give him his first present. You give him a football and he plays with it all day. I was in charge of making sure the ball was always at his feet.”
Dani Alves was asked why did he reject the chance to be reunited with the 47-year-old at Manchester City when he left Juventus in 2017? How did he end up here, in Paris, instead?
“It was all done to go to Manchester City but it didn’t happen because of a family decision,” he says. “Pep knew my intentions. I spoke with him, he knew my intention to work with him and his staff again. He knows the gigantic respect I have for them, which is why I wanted to work with him again until something else came up.
“In life, you have to weigh everything up, even when they are just decisions about your career. I like my decisions to be taken carefully, so they don’t harm anyone close to me so that the people close to me are happy.
“I know that if the people close to me are happy, I am happy, and I can do my job better. For me, it was a shame not to work with Guardiola again because he knows I adore him, but at the same time it was a new challenge which is what changed my mind.”