Dani Alves has said the best piece of advice he could offer new Barcelona signing Sergino Dest is simply to give the ball to Lionel Messi.
Dest, 20, joined Barca from Ajax last month in a deal worth up to €26 million. The USMNT international has been compared to Alves and said the Brazilian right-back was one of his idols growing up.
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Alves, now playing for Sao Paulo back in his homeland, said he doesn’t like to compare players, but he did have one recommendation for Dest.
“Dest has a lot of quality and could be a great player for Barcelona but I don’t like to make comparisons,” Alves told RAC1. “The same happened to me with Cafu. It doesn’t make sense.
“But if I had to give Dest some advice, it would be very simple: pass the ball to Messi!”
Alves, 37, left Camp Nou in 2016 but continued to play at the top level in Europe with Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain for the next three years.
He also said Barca mistreated him and were wrong to force him out but didn’t have the “balls” to take him back when they realised their mistake — and said he offered to return.
The Brazil international feels his former club have lost their identity and sold out.
“I’m no one to have a go but it does seem the club has prostituted itself,” he added. “Before Barca had an identity. Now they’re a commercial club. They’re a buying and selling club. They have a lot of good players, but they have not maintained their philosophy.”
Despite that, Alves still got in touch with Messi in the summer to advise him to stay at Camp Nou when he was pushing for an exit.
“I sent him a message saying he shouldn’t leave,” Alves said. “When the club wanted to boot me out, I told him I was leaving because they wanted me gone and he said: ‘Don’t go. Where will you be better off than here?’
“I sent him the same message this summer. He didn’t answer, but I know he got it.
“Messi’s as big as the club’s crest — they should name the stadium after him after all he’s done for Barca.
“It’s impossible not to miss him. I had an amazing connection with him. Now he seems lonelier [on the pitch] because Barca have lost their identity a little. When you look around and see [everything is a] disaster, it’s normal that you want to leave.”