Barcelona head coach Xavi apologised on Sunday after facing a wave of criticism for his comments after the arrest of Dani Alves on sexual assault allegations.

Xavi, a former team-mate and coach of Alves, said in a press conference on Saturday he was "in a state of shock" after hearing the news.

Brazilian right-back Alves was arrested in Barcelona on Friday after it was alleged he assaulted a woman in a nightclub bathroom.

The 39-year-old, who has been refused bail, denied committing the offence when he spoke to Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 in early January.

Xavi also said on Saturday that "justice will dictate" the situation, but he faced flak, particularly on social media, for focusing on Alves, rather than expressing concern for the alleged victim.

He looked to clear that up following Barcelona's 1-0 win against Getafe on Sunday, saying: "What I said was misinterpreted, or I was not as forceful as I should have been, but it is important that I explain myself.

"It is a difficult and delicate subject. Yesterday I ignored the victim, but I want to make it clear that any act of gender-based violence or rape must be condemned, whether Dani or anyone else does it.

"I feel bad that Dani could have done it, but on this issue you have to be very strong. Yesterday I was not very lucky with my words and I apologise. I know that my voice is very important, because I represent a club like Barca. I am truly sorry, it has not been a pleasant day for me."

Xavi was "in a state of shock" following news of former Barcelona star Dani Alves being arrested on suspicion of carrying out a sexual assault.

Brazilian right-back Alves was arrested in Barcelona on Friday after it was alleged he assaulted a woman in a nightclub bathroom.

The 39-year-old denied committing the offence when he spoke to Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 in early January.

Alves, who has also played for Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla, gave a statement to the Mossos d'Esquadra police force on Friday before the public prosecutor's office requested that he should be detained and not granted bail.

He has been kept in prison while investigations continue, and his contract with Mexican club Pumas UNAM has been terminated.

Xavi, a former Barcelona team-mate of Alves, signed the defender for a short second Barcelona stint last season.

Speaking in a Barcelona pre-match press conference on Saturday, Xavi said: "It is difficult to comment on a situation like this. I am surprised, shocked, in a state of shock.

"It is a matter of justice. Justice will dictate whatever."

Alves became the oldest player to feature in a World Cup match for Brazil when he played against Cameroon in Qatar last month.

Pumas UNAM have terminated Dani Alves' contract after the former Barcelona defender was arrested on sexual assault charges.

Alves was arrested in Barcelona on Friday after it was alleged he sexually assaulted a woman in a nightclub bathroom.

The 39-year-old, who became the oldest player to feature in a World Cup match for Brazil when he played against Cameroon in Qatar last month, has denied assaulting the woman.

According to widespread reports, Alves – who has also played for Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla – gave a statement to the Mossos d'Esquadra police force before the public prosecutor's office requested that he should be detained and not granted bail.

Spanish news agency EFE reported how that application, plus a private prosecution brought by the woman who made the allegation, would be put to the investigating judge to determine whether Alves is kept in prison while investigations continue.

Subsequently, Pumas confirmed on Friday, via a short statement on their website and a media briefing from club president Leopoldo Silva, that they had terminated Alves' contract.

Alves joined Mexican side Pumas in 2022 after his second spell at Barca came to an end.

Dani Alves was arrested on Friday by police in Barcelona after it was alleged he sexually assaulted a woman in a nightclub bathroom.

The former Barcelona and Brazil right-back gave a statement to the Mossos d'Esquadra police force before the public prosecutor's office requested that he should be detained and not granted bail.

Spanish news agency EFE reported how that application, plus a private prosecution brought by the woman who made the allegation, would be put to the investigating judge to determine whether Alves is kept in prison while investigations continue.

Alves, 39, has also played for Paris Saint-Germain, Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla, and returned for a second spell at Barcelona last season, before joining Mexican team Pumas UNAM.

The incident under investigation is alleged to have happened on the evening of December 30.

In a video sent to Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 earlier this month, Alves denied assaulting the woman.

Lionel Messi is a World Cup winner at the fifth and final attempt, after Argentina held their nerve to defeat France in one of the greatest matches in tournament history.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, who claimed a second Golden Ball with his brace, saw off domestic team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who bagged only the second-ever hat-trick in men's final history, to win in Doha.

La Albiceleste appeared to have wrapped up the prize after goals for Messi and Angel Di Maria in the first half, but were made to work for their triumph after France rose from the canvas to force extra-time – and then penalties again after a 3-3 draw.

But Argentina delivered in the shoot-out, winning it 4-2 to end a 36-year drought for football's biggest prize, and confirming one of their true legends adds the biggest accolade of all to his trophy cabinet.

Messi's long-awaited success at the tournament was widely celebrated by players and peers across the game, with Paris Saint-Germain colleague Neymar saluting him on social media.

"Congratulations brother," he posted on Twitter.

Romario, who like Messi won the Golden Ball and the World Cup trophy in the same tournament when he did so with Brazil in 1994, mentioned Argentina legend Diego Maradona, with this the first tournament since his passing in November 2020.

"I'm sure my friend Maradona is happy to see this victory, as are his people," Romario said on Twitter. "Congratulations Argentina!

"Argentina were better on the field and Messi received the title he was missing today, that of world champion for his country."

Andrea Pirlo, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, stated: "Great final... congratulations to Messi and Argentina!"

Jerome Boateng started for Germany against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final, when a 113th-minute Mario Gotze winner condemned Messi's side to defeat.

Having watched Messi come back from that devastating loss to finally get his hands on international football's top prize, Boateng spoke of his joy at watching him finally lift the trophy.

"Congratulations Lionel Messi and Argentina. Finally you got the trophy you truly deserve," Boateng said.

Former Barcelona colleague Dani Alves was delighted for Messi on Instagram, stating: "Football loves you and those of us who love football respect you and congratulate you right now for that moment.

"Enjoy it with your family. As a Brazilian and as a South American, I know that's more than winning that cup."

Dani Alves has thanked outgoing Brazil coach Tite following the Selecao's shock World Cup elimination, declaring: "There are some medals you don't wear on your chest, but on your soul."

The five-time winners succumbed to a surprise quarter-final exit on Friday, losing 4-2 to Croatia in a penalty shoot-out after Bruno Petkovic cancelled out Neymar's opening goal late in extra time.

Alves became Brazil's oldest player to feature at the World Cup during their group-stage defeat to Cameroon earlier this month (aged 39 years and 210 days), but was an unused substitute as Tite's side slipped to a second consecutive last-eight exit.

Tite revealed in February that he would leave his role irrespective of how Brazil's World Cup campaign ended, and despite the pain of Friday's defeat, Alves remains grateful for the 61-year-old's work with the team.

Writing on Instagram alongside an image of the pair embracing, Alves said: "This hug is the purest meaning of what you represent to me and to this group of special human beings.

"Special for their particularities, for their character, for their humility and above all, for the stories of overcoming difficulties and for the great souls that exist behind the small screen.

"There are some medals you don't wear on your chest, but on your soul, and this is one.

"Thank you for teaching us how to be men, children, friends, brothers and human beings. It may be that what we have today has no value, or it may be that there are still beings who still believe how valuable and important it is.

"This is our last trip here, and I can tell you; I would not change a thing. I wish you all the wonderful and purest things in this life and the next.

"May you have the peace that I will also take with me. The peace of duty fulfilled and mission accomplished. The result of a game will never change the score of our lives.

"With great affection and respect, thank you for all these years together in the promise of representing the best country in the world."

Only fellow full-backs Cafu (143) and Roberto Carlos (127) have won more senior caps for Brazil than Alves (126), and the Barcelona great is under no illusions that his own association with the World Cup is over.

However, he hopes the same cannot be said for Neymar, who refused to give any guarantees on his international future in the aftermath of the Selecao's defeat.

Speaking after Friday's game, Alves told reporters: "This World Cup was my last one. For me, it's time to say that. But I don't think it will be the same for Neymar. He's great, Brazilian football needs him to keep going."

Brazil's defeat to Cameroon is "a warning signal" they must heed ahead of the World Cup knockout rounds, says Dani Alves.

The Selecao fielded a much-changed side in their final Group G match, with progression to the last 16 already secured.

But a late Vincent Aboubakar finish condemned Tite's side to a shock 1-0 loss in Lusail, to check Brazil's momentum heading forward.

With a last-16 tie against South Korea now confirmed, veteran defender Alves - who skippered his nation against Cameroon - believes it is a reminder that there is no safety net now for his side.

"It's a warning signal," he said. "There is no weak rival. Here is the lesson, we need to stay switched on throughout the game. One detail and it's over.

"We end today with the feeling that a beautiful day slipped through the hands of us players who weren't playing much."

Brazil arrived at Qatar 2022 as the pre-tournament favourites, a record enhanced after two strong opening performances against Switzerland and Serbia prior to the defeat to Cameroon.

Despite the likes of Germany, Belgium and Uruguay tumbling out of the competition, Brazil face a difficult path to the final should they get past South Korea, with Argentina and the Netherlands among their potential semi-final opponents.

Brazil defender Dani Alves has no doubt over what he can offer to Tite's World Cup squad, despite being 39.

Former Barcelona and Juventus full-back Alves made the 26-man selection for Qatar, but is yet to feature at the tournament.

That seems set to change on Friday, with Tite set to ring the changes for Brazil's final Group G match against Cameroon, given the Selecao's place in the last 16 is already assured.

While acknowledging he is no longer at his peak, Alves – who made his Brazil debut in 2006 – is sure on just what he can bring to the team.

"[I'm] very proud to be able to be here," he said at a press conference.

"I have been doing so for many years with the squad, so to be able to wrap up this cycle by playing in the World Cup makes me very happy.

"When you work hard, dedicate yourself and go after what you want, you'll go places you would never have thought of. That's what life is giving me.

"All my 16 years on the squad, I have done my best for the team. Life always rewards the people who love what they do and do their very best on the mission.

"I am reaping what I have planted over those 16 years. It's normal that people question this because of my age or because I am not at my best, but at the World Cup it's not about being your best for a club, but having your best moment at the tournament.

"In the two matches that I wasn't present, our team needed a better defender in my position, I'm good as an attacker – that's a plan that we have established here, to know how the team plays and what will be demanded of a player.

"I am here to serve the team. If I have to play the drum, I will be the best drummer out there. 

"I know what I can do for the team and know there are other players at a better moment than I for what is requested. I know I can deliver, know what I can deliver.

"Trust is something you don't ask for, it's something you obtain. I have obtained the trust."

Tite believes Alves sets the prime example to the younger players in his squad.

"We represent people with a lot of love, a lot of pride, passion and dedication," Tite said.

"Dani is an example of that. He does everything with high quality. I greatly respect those who have got to where he has. He is much more than football, much more than a player on the pitch."

Two of the younger players Tite will be hoping are looking to emulate Alves are wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Antony, with both options to start against Cameroon.

Both players were featuring in Sao Paulo Youth Cup only three years ago, and Alves believes their success is proof hard work pays off.

"A few years ago they were playing a minor tournament and now they're at the World Cup," Alves said. "It shows their dedication, and shows how we need to mature quickly. They deserve to be here, that's their reward.

"We win when everybody plays at the same level, on and off the field. I think this is the most balanced team we have ever had."

Brazil will be without the injured Neymar and Danilo against Cameroon, though both have progressed to working in the swimming pool.

Should the Selecao win Group G, they will play against the runners-up of Group H on Monday in the last 16.

Dani Alves believes Kylian Mbappe "has still not understood" the value of playing with "geniuses" Lionel Messi and Neymar in Paris Saint-Germain's attack.

Mbappe is the leading marksman in Ligue 1 this season with 12 goals – one more than Brazil international Neymar – while he is just 11 away from breaking Edinson Cavani's club record tally of 200.

However, the France international has only registered two assists in the French top flight this term, with Messi (10) and Neymar (nine) recording 19 between them.

Alves spent two years playing alongside Mbappe and Neymar in Paris, having also previously won multiple honours alongside the latter and Messi at Barcelona.

The Brazil full-back who, at 39, was handed a chance to become his nation's oldest World Cup player, feels the 23-year-old Mbappe's goalscoring exploits would be even greater should be pass to his team-mates more often.

"Neymar and Messi are unique, they see and do things that no one else sees or can do," Alves told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You have to be smart to take advantage of their potential, they are the two geniuses of football.

"I think I can touch the ball well, but when I was playing with Leo, I was giving him the ball. And if I play with Ney, I give him the ball. If Mbappe gave the ball to those two, he would score 150 goals [in a season].

"A great player always has to know and understand who he is playing with. Your team-mates enrich your qualities.

"Mbappe is a phenomenon who has still not understood that those who play in attack with him are more phenomenal than him."

 

Dani Alves will become Brazil's oldest World Cup star after earning a recall for Qatar 2022, while Roberto Firmino has missed out on Tite's final squad, with Gabriel Martinelli preferred.

Alves is now 39 and made his international debut in 2006, but he is heading to his third World Cup this year.

The former Barcelona right-back will make Selecao history, with Djalma Santos – 37 at the 1966 World Cup – previously their oldest player at a finals.

Alves is not necessarily a hugely popular choice, but Tite responded to the veteran's critics.

"I didn't come here to please people on Twitter, which I don't even know what percentage of the Brazilian people represents," the coach said.

"I respect differing opinions and I'm not here to convince everyone. I just want to give information so that people democratically form their own opinion.

"Now, everyone has their opinion and everyone has my respect."

Alves' inclusion was the standout news from Tite's squad announcement on Monday, although the coach also had a big call to make in attack.

Arsenal pair Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus each made the cut, but Liverpool's Firmino did not due to the wealth of alternative options at Tite's disposal.

Firmino does not return after being named in the Brazil squad at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, although nine members of that group are included again.

Alisson and Ederson remain among the goalkeepers, while defenders Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Danilo all return.

Manchester United pair Fred and Casemiro are unsurprising choices in midfield, as Neymar again joins Jesus up front amid a sensational season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazil World Cup squad in full:

Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Sevilla), Bremer (Juventus), Dani Alves (UNAM), Danilo (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Casemiro (Manchester United), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham); Antony (Manchester United), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Pedro (Flamengo), Raphinha (Barcelona), Richarlison (Tottenham), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Barcelona great Dani Alves feels his Brazilian compatriot Pele – and not Lionel Messi – holds the strongest claim to the 'greatest of all time' title because he "changed football".

Alves played alongside Messi for eight years during his first spell at Camp Nou, forming a devastating relationship with the Argentinian on the right flank.

Both players were pillars of a Barcelona team that enjoyed a prolonged period of dominance both in Spain and Europe, with Alves winning 23 trophies during his initial eight-season stint in Catalonia.

And yet, despite seeing Messi's brilliance up close and personal, Alves – who now plays in Mexico for UNAM Pumas – still believes Pele's significance is at an altogether different level.

Speaking to Mexico, Real Madrid and Pumas legend Hugo Sanchez on ESPN, Alves was asked to pick between Messi and Pele – he said: "I choose Pele for one reason: he changed football. Messi changed a generation.

"All those people who are more than football, I'm going to choose them. And besides, I'm Brazilian.

"For me, Pele should not be part of this ['GOAT'] debate. If you ask me, who is the best player in history? I would say Messi. Pele doesn't come into it."

Cristiano Ronaldo was not brought into the 'GOAT' discussion, though Alves did appraise his former Clasico rival when asked about his toughest opponent.

"Cristiano Ronaldo," Alves added. "This b****** doesn't let you breathe for a second. I didn't do too badly, but it's difficult. He's a scoring machine."

Now 39, Alves is continuing his illustrious and immensely successful career in Liga MX having signed a one-year deal with Pumas in July.

He made the switch to Mexico City after spending eight months back at Barcelona, returning to help out his former team-mate Xavi.

It remains to be seen if he will be at Pumas beyond the current season, though he suggests thoughts of retirement have not firmly taken root, even joking he could play for another 10 years if Messi breaks his world record of 47 trophies won.

"First, before requesting anything [another season with Pumas], I like to deliver," he said.

"I have a year to prove myself with [Pumas]. I wouldn't have a problem [staying another year]. I need to show them that I can, that together we can build a very cool team in Mexico, that plays in a different way, that [lets] young people take a step forward.

"I don't like to think about the future because it's always unknown. I let life take me. If Messi passes me [in trophies] then I'm going to play until I'm 50!"

Dani Alves is grateful that he will have the opportunity to say a final farewell to Barcelona fans at Camp Nou in one of his first games as a Pumas UNAM player.

The veteran full-back left Barcelona at the end of last season following the expiration of a short-term deal signed when returning to the club for a second spell in January.

Brazil international Alves started 14 LaLiga games for Xavi's side in the second half of last season, but the club decided against extending his contract for another year.

He will now continue his prestigious career in Mexico with Pumas, who confirmed the 39-year-old's arrival on Saturday after days of teasing the high-profile signing.

And in a coincidental twist, Alves is now expected to be part of the Pumas squad that takes on Barca for the Joan Gamper Trophy on August 7.

Barca were originally scheduled to face Roma, but Jose Mourinho's side pulled out and Pumas took up the invitation to play in the pre-season friendly.

The defender previously suggested he was unhappy with the manner of his Camp Nou exit, but he has now said he can understand Barcelona's decision.

"In the end, life treats people who treat life well, and this game gives me the right to come and play with Pumas at Camp Nou to say goodbye," he told TUDN News. 

"My contract there ended. I didn't expect much more as I'd only signed for six months and fulfilled those.

"But now, I will have the opportunity with Pumas to say goodbye to the people as I would have always liked."

 

Alves scored one goal and set up four more between his second debut on January 5 and the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

That is a tally bettered only by Ferran Torres (six), Jordi Alba (seven) and Ousmane Dembele (11) among Barca players over that period.

Despite recently turning 39, Alves made clear he wanted to quickly find a new club in order to remain part of Tite's plans for the 2022 World Cup.

Asked why he opted for Mexico, and Pumas in particular, Alves said: "What attracted me to this club is more than just football.

"I think that in Mexico, you have to try to believe a little more in their football. 

"Those who out of ignorance discredit Liga MX, do it wrongly. There are very good goalkeepers, who we have faced at the Olympics. 

"When we went to the Club World Cup with Barca, the Mexicans were the only ones who wanted to face us."

Former Barcelona full-back Dani Alves is to continue his playing career in Mexico, with the 39-year-old set to join Pumas UNAM.

Alves re-joined Barca last year and, after registering in January, went on to make 14 LaLiga appearances for Xavi's team.

The defender made 13 starts in Spain's top flight and scored one goal, as he returned to Camp Nou after spells with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Sao Paulo in his native Brazil.

Alves is now heading back across the Atlantic to join Liga MX side Pumas, who teased the signing on their official Twitter account on Thursday.

A video showing the club's mascot arriving at Pumas' stadium concluded with the caption "Dani, we wait for you." Alves is expected to arrive in Mexico this weekend to finalise his move.

Dani Alves says Barcelona "do not care about the people who made history for the club" following his release by the LaLiga giants last month.

The Brazil international returned to Camp Nou last November and made 17 appearances after being officially registered in January, but his short-term contract was not renewed.

Alves spent eight years with Barca in his previous spell in Catalonia and won 23 trophies in arguably the most successful period in the club's decorated history.

During that past stint, the 377 chances created by Alves were bettered by only five others from Europe's top five leagues, two of them being Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

While grateful to have had the chance to return, the veteran full-back is upset at the manner of his latest exit and has taken aim at those in charge of running the club.

"I didn't leave sad. I left happy to have returned to Barcelona. I dreamed for five years wanting to live this second moment," he told The Guardian. 

"The only thing I didn't like was how my departure was handled. 

"Since I arrived, I made it very clear that I wasn't any more a 20-year-old guy and that I wanted things to be done head-on, without hiding things. 

"But this club has sinned in recent years. Barcelona don't care about the people who made history for the club.

"As a [Barca fan], I would like Barcelona to do things differently. I’m not talking about myself because my situation was another scenario. 

"I am eternally grateful to Xavi and the president for bringing me back. I found a club full of young people with incredible ideas on the pitch. 

"But it needs to improve the work outside the field. The mindset is totally opposite to what we built a few years ago. 

"Everything that happens on the field is a reflection of what happens outside.

"I'm supporting for Barcelona to come back to the top, but it's super-complicated. Football is more balanced, it's a collective game. And that has been left out at the club."

 

Alves scored one goal and set up four more between his second debut on January 5 and the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

That is a tally bettered only by Ferran Torres (six), Jordi Alba (seven) and Ousmane Dembele (11) among Barca players over that period.

Despite recently turning 39, Alves has made clear he intends to find a new club in order to remain part of Tite's Brazil plans for the 2022 World Cup, which begins in November.

"I know that everyone is talking about my age, that I am old, that 20 years ago everyone wanted me and today not," he said. 

"But I completely disagree because I have an experience today that I didn't have 20 years ago. When there's a big game, 20-year-olds get nervous and worried, but I don't.

"Age has its pros and cons. There are many things you do when you're 20, but you don't do it when you're older. 

"Maturity comes from just living. I also have the experience of having lived almost everything in the sport."

Alves, capped 124 times by Brazil, added: "The last dance is when you're going to retire, but I think I’ll keep dancing. 

"A dance is always welcome, regardless of the place and which dance. I do not think like that. 

"And the last dance has already been done. It's better to create a new chapter, a new series. It's another chapter of my life."

Pedri has been handed the number eight shirt at Barcelona, which was left vacant by Dani Alves' departure.

Spain sensation Pedri had been wearing the number 16 since his signing from Las Palmas in 2020.

But the opportunity to take on a shirt notably worn by World Cup winner Andres Iniesta has presented itself this close-season.

Since the great Iniesta left Barca in 2018, the number had been worn by Arthur and Miralem Pjanic in unsuccessful stints, before the returning Alves – number two in his first spell at Camp Nou – took it on last season.

Alves has now left as a free agent, at 39, and the Blaugrana revealed Pedri's new number on social media on Friday.

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