They enjoyed a spectacularly fruitful partnership during Barcelona’s golden era, and though Dani Alves has backed his former team-mate, Lionel Messi, after the captain criticised not only the playing staff but the club as a whole for their woeful season, he directed his ire at those not supporting the Argentinian, even going as far to suggest that Barca were just another team now.
When Pep Guardiola was the coach, he was lucky enough to have Barca’s biggest names all in their pomp, and even when Luis Enrique took the team to a second treble in 2015, the players were still at the peak of their powers.
There was always going to be a time when that came to an end, but what appears unforgivable to Alves is that the team have lost its identity. Effectively, what makes Barca different from every other club.
“What this Barça lacks is the identity it has always had, like Ronaldinho’s Barça, our Barça,” he said on Catalunya Radio’s ‘Tot Gira’ programme, and cited by Sport.
“The identity of a team that dominates for 90 minutes, 100 minutes, or 150 minutes. Barça are there for people to enjoy.
“Now what I see, from the outside, is that Barça are just another team. They used to have an understanding throughout the team and made things look easy.
“Leo is a natural winner. He doesn’t like losing. When the team loses it’s normal he gets angry, he always wants to win. Just like me. We always want to win.
“He’s been doing what he does for so long, he knows when a team gives one thing and when it gives another. That’s why he says what works and what doesn’t because he knows.
“He’s spent so many years at Barça, experienced so many things, and he knows exactly what the team needs to win.”
With the La Liga title already gone for this season, the Catalans only have the Champions League to play for, and even if they were to beat Napoli, it will be a tall order – given their form – to believe that they will lift the trophy in Lisbon in August.