Dani Alves said he has returned to Barcelona to fight for his place, not «put his feet up», after the 38-year-old was presented to almost 10,000 fans at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
A grinning Alves bowed, waved and kissed the badge in front of adoring Barca supporters chanting his name, before signing a contract on the pitch alongside club president Joan Laporta.
In a press conference shortly afterwards, Laporta even kept open the possibility of more former stars returning, in response to a question about the futures of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
Alves is back five years after leaving Barcelona, having won six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with the club. He played in the same team as Xavi Hernandez, who has made his own sensational comeback as coach.
«One thing that doesn’t change is the desire to fight,» said Alves. «I have a little less hair but that desire remains the same.
«I know what this club is. I’m not here to put my feet up or enjoy life in Barcelona, I’m here to fight for my place and to play.»
Alves has signed on a free transfer and will reportedly accept the lowest salary in Barcelona’s first-team squad. He will be available to play in January, with his contract initially running only until June.
«I was doing everything I could with the president, insisting that I wanted to come back and that I could help,» Alves said. «In the end I received a call from Xavi saying that he would count on me if I wanted to come. The rest was very easy.»
Laporta said Xavi was in favour of Alves coming back. «I told Xavi that Dani was available and wanted to help,» Laporta said. «Xavi told me Dani is one of those people you always need in your team.»
Laporta was also asked about the possibility of bringing back other legends like Messi, who is at Paris Saint-Germain, and Iniesta, who is playing for Vissel Kobe in Japan.
«I don’t rule it out,» said Laporta. «They are icons who have made the club great, Leo and Iniesta are two spectacular players. I cannot predict the future and they have contracts with other clubs, which we have to respect, but you never know.»
Alves made light of the suggestion Messi might be wishing he was part of the reunion.
«If you give me a couple of hours, I will go and find him,» Alves said, laughing.
Barcelona are a very different outfit to the one Alves left. They are sitting ninth in La Liga and grappling with debts of more than a billion euros.
The club’s chief executive Mateu Alemany admitted Barca are unlikely to be able to make signings in January.
«The reality is that today we can register Xavi and his coaching staff but we have nothing left over,» said Alemany. «In January we’ll see if there are more departures and if that fits with the needs of the coach.»