It looks increasingly likely that Dani Alves’ time at Barcelona will end in the summer, leaving some rather large boots for his successor to fill.
In collecting five La Liga medals and three Champions League crowns, Alves became the standard bearer for attacking full-backs at the Nou Camp.
His emergence during Pep Guardiola’s tenure with the Blaugrana saw him progress in to one of the world’s best right-backs. In partnership with the Spanish tactician, Alves played a key part in creating one of the most distinctive footballing styles in the modern era.
Finding an act to follow the 89-cap international will be tough for the Catalan club, just like it was when Guardiola departed in 2012.
Despite the daunting task, the Barca scouts appear to have found a potential replacement for the 32-year-old Brazilian, with AS reporting that the Spaniards are interested in Corinthians defender Fagner.
However, if Guardiola, who is to take over at Manchester City next season, wants to replicate his patented tiki-taka tactics with the Citizens, gate crashing that deal is a strong starting point.
Barcelona’s pursuit of Fagner gives some indication of their belief that the 26-year-old can replicate Alves’ raiding style.
Considering how well Guardiola made use of those runs with Alves at the Nou Camp, it would make sense to find a right-back that can repeat it at the Etihad.
Both Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna are the wrong side of 30, so finding a younger option will be a priority for the Etihad club sooner or later. Neither are well renowned as potent attacking threats either.
Zabaleta’s ability to effect the game in the final third has diminished alarmingly in the past two campaigns, where he has registered less assists in those terms combined than he did during the peak of his powers in 2013/14.
Sagna, always a backup to the Argentine, has never had more than five assists in a Premier League season during his career and would be the most likely casualty of a Fagner pursuit.
The Corinthians star, who has had spells in Europe with PSV and Wolfsburg, has made five appearances for Timao in this year’s Copa Libertadores.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.