Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker believes the club must be regretting allowing Dani Alves to leave the club for Juventus last summer. The Brazil international has enjoyed a fine maiden campaign in Italy, helping Juve win the Serie A title and Coppa Italia and reach the Champions League final.
The 34-year-old was allowed to leave the Nou Camp after winning 23 major honours during eight years at the club last summer. Despite having 12 months remaining on his deal with the Catalans Alves moved to the Juventus Stadium on a free and has been vital to the club's assault on the treble.
Alves' success has been compounded by an injury crisis at right-back with Aleix Vidal missing the last three months of the season with an ankle blow suffered in February. Sergio Roberto and Rafinha have filled the void in his absence but that has done little to mask over Barcelona's decision to allow Alves to leave.
"Barcelona must massively regret letting [Alves] slip away because they've struggled massively in that position," Lineker, who scored 52 goals across three seasons for Barcelona from 1986 to 1989, told ESPN. "He's a brilliant footballer. One of the best ever in his position. He's been great."
The concluding test of Alves' first season at Juventus could come in the form of Gareth Bale, the record signing of Barcelona's arch rivals Real Madrid, with the Wales international in contention to start the Champions League final in Cardiff for Zinedine Zidane's side. Injury has meant Bale has not played since the El Clasico defeat to Barcelona in April but should he be fit to feature then Lineker expects the 27-year-old to challenge Alves' dominance.
"I'd put him right up there with the best British players of all time," the ex-England striker added. "He's got to be in certainly the top 10. I didn't catch much of George Best and Bobby Charlton but obviously they'd have to be right up there. Kenny Dalglish I would certainly put in there. Bryan Robson but he suffered a bit with injury. Glenn Hoddle if he'd been playing for a different country. Gazza nearly.
"[Bale's] won a lot of things, helped Wales be more successful than they've been in a long time, and he's playing for one of the giants of world football, so he's right up there, and still in his prime. I've always loved him as a player; he's a wonderfully-gifted footballer.
"I'm sure he really wants to be part of this game, in his hometown. He's had his share of injuries this season, which is a shame, but overall at Real Madrid, he's proven himself as a world-class player. This game isn't going to define him one way or the other, but it could add to [his reputation]."