This is according to Spanish publication Sport, who understand the friendship between the two players could be a “decisive factor” in the Brazilian’s decision to join the Red Devils when his contract expires in June.
United manager Louis van Gaal is seeking a first-class right wing-back to suit his favoured 3-5-2 formation. Alves is one option, while Everton’s Seamus Coleman is another.
Alves a cheap, reliable option
However, Alves - who turns 32 in May - would be a significantly cheaper option, with Everton reportedly demanding in excess of £25 million for the Republic of Ireland international.
Van Gaal must decide, though, whether Alves is still at the level of three or four years ago. At this point he was the world’s undisputed best right-back - and a key member of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team.
But his influence has waned since Guardiola’s Camp Nou departure - and there’s a reason why Barcelona are now looking for an upgrade: they feel his best years are behind him.
Rafael da Silva
But what about the future of Manchester United’s current first-choice right-back, Rafael?
The 24-year-old has struggled for form and fitness since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge at Old Trafford - Rafael’s best campaign since joining the Red Devils from Fluminense in 2008 - while his temperament also remains a concern for Van Gaal.
Rafael has played just 72 minutes of Premier League football since United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea on October 26 due to a succession of untimely injuries. He underwent surgery earlier this month after undergoing surgery on a fractured cheekbone sustained against Yeovil Town in the FA Cup.
The South American also appears more suited to the role of right-back, rather than right wing-back - and with Van Gaal keen to stick to his unpopular 3-5-2 system, despite the fact it has not had the desired effect at Old Trafford, Alves is regarded as a better fit.
The Barcelona right-back played alongside Valdes at the Camp Nou for six years - and there’s a good chance the duo could be reunited in Manchester this summer.