2:53 PM ET
Alex KirklandESPN FC
Barcelona legend Dani Alves is set to rejoin the club for the remainder of the season as a free agent. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Sergio Busquets has welcomed the return of Dani Alves to Barcelona, praising the veteran defender’s “character, winning mentality and leadership.”
Barca confirmed the signing on Friday of the 38-year-old Brazil international, who left previous club Sao Paulo in September, on a free transfer.
– Lowe: Don’t celebrate Spain‘s World Cup spot just yet
– ESPN+ viewers’ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more
Alves left Camp Nou in 2016 after eight successful years at the club and now returns on an initial short-term deal until the end of the season.
“It’s a joy,” Busquets said in a news conference with Spain on Saturday. “We know the player Dani is, knowing the professional he is and what he’s delivered at his clubs and with his national team, he’ll bring us a lot in the dressing room with his character, his winning mentality, his leadership.
“Let’s hope it goes well. I’m looking forward to sharing a dressing room with him again.”
Alves, who won three Champions Leagues and six LaLiga titles with Barcelona before moving on to Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Sao Paulo, will be available to play for them again from January.
He’s the first signing under new coach Xavi Hernandez, another former teammate of Busquets.
“As a player [Xavi] was one of the best, if not the best in Spain’s history,” Busquets said. “I’ve been lucky to know him as a teammate and as a person… I know how he sees football. We’ve been together a lot of years. I couldn’t be looking forward to it more.”
Busquets was speaking ahead of Spain’s final World Cup qualifier against Sweden in Seville on Sunday, where a win or draw would see them qualify from group B.
The two sides drew 0-0 at Euro 2020, while Sweden won 2-1 in qualifying in Stockholm in September, and have now added 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their squad.
“It doesn’t matter what I’d prefer, it’s a decision for [coach Janne Andersson],” Spain boss Luis Enrique said when asked if Sweden were stronger with Ibrahimovic back. “I don’t know if he’ll play.
“I have maximum respect for my colleagues, I wouldn’t say my preference and I don’t have one anyway. I always like to play against the best.”