Barcelona defender Dani Alves sarcastically pondered “what I would have achieved if I had been any good” in a jibe at critics.
Alves has faced accusations of being better at going forward than defending throughout his career, but he took the opportunity of his interview with the Daily Mail to pose the reminder that he had withstood the test of time as Barca’s first-choice right-back.
“I’m no Messi, but every time he goes to the Ballon d’Or ceremony he has to take me with him because I’m in the FIFA team of the season,” he began.
“Maybe it’s because I have a friend among the judges but I have five of those [team of the year] trophies. I even joke with him: ‘You have to keep taking me to this gala because every time I come with you, you win’.
“Without being able to defend properly I have lasted nine years at Barcelona. Imagine what I would have achieved if I had been any good.
“Maybe it is easier to win things at Barcelona, but it’s also more difficult to stay in the team here or at least to stay in it for long enough to win this much.
“[On last season’s trophies meaning the most], they had written me off as finished.
“My critics have always put me under the magnifying glass but what they don’t realise is you can’t magnify the bad without magnifying the good too.
“If you look at my balls and they’re this big. Put them under the magnifying glass and they’re going to be even bigger.
“I love my team. I live for my team-mates and I’d be no use to them if I wasn’t always thinking about how to make sure they play well.
“If they make mistakes, I have to know how to be there to cover, if they need the ball, I need to know where to give it to them.
“I don’t want to spend all season talking about me, me, me and at the end of it we haven’t won anything. That’s a disaster.
“Some people say there is not the fluidity of old in our play but the games that we used to struggle to win because we were not 100 percent now we win those matches.
“This team has character, it has balls, it is ready for any challenge.”