SAO PAULO (AP) — More than 40,000 Brazilian fans showed up Tuesday night to see Dani Alves join his boyhood club Sao Paulo FC.
The former Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain defender said the move aims to keep him in shape for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, when he will be 39 years old.
The captain of Brazil’s title-winning Copa America team signed a contract that runs to December 2022. He left PSG on a free transfer after his contract expired in July.
Alves has lifted 40 trophies in his professional career and is looking for more.
“I have the dream of playing the next World Cup and I need a team that believes in me, in my history in soccer,” Alves said. “I am coming to Sao Paulo to bring results, I don’t want anyone thinking I have come to end my career. I still have many goals.”
Alves did not play in last year’s World Cup because of a knee injury. He was on Brazil’s squad for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament, but in both occasions he lost his place in the starting lineup to Maicon.
Alves move to midfield to help extend his career.
Another Sao Paulo historic player, 2007 FIFA Player of the Year Kaká, handed Alves his number 10 shirt in front of excited fans who haven’t seen their club win major trophies since the 2012 Copa Sudamericana title.
Alves did not hide his emotion when it comes to the warm reception he has received since his arrival at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport.
“Today Sao Paulo did not sign a player, the club signed a fan like you all,” the defender said during Tuesday night’s presentation.
FC Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez appeared on Morumbi Stadium’s giant screen with messages for the veteran Brazilian.
“I want to wish you the best in this stage of your career,” Messi said. “I hope you enjoy returning to your country and playing there after so much time abroad.”
Alves said he wants to play Saturday against Brazilian championship leader Santos, but club doctors are not sure whether it will be possible.
Sao Paulo is in fifth position in the Brazilian championship with 21 points in 12 matches, 11 behind the leader.
Alves has not played since Brazil’s 3-1 win over Peru in the Copa America final on July 7 at the Maracanã Stadium.
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