Raphinha Takes Huge Step Forward At FC Barcelona Amid Sale Rumors

Raphinha has taken a huge leap forward with his recent performances for FC Barcelona, amid rumors he will be sold in the summer if his form doesn’t improve.

The Brazilian cost a reported €60mn ($65mn) from Leeds United on the cusp of 2022/2023, after Barca activated an ‘economic lever’ to make the deal happen as Chelsea lurked in the background.

Though his return of three goals and six assists in all competitions wasn’t too shoddy by most wingers’ standards, many a Culer was on the 26-year-old’s back and felt that his displays weren’t up to par.

Raphinha seemed to have fallen out of favor with head coach Xavi Hernandez too, who sacrificed him in favor of Ousmane Dembele when moving to a system of four midfielders and using Gavi or Pedri as a false left winger to great success.

When Dembele picked up an injury that will keep him sidelined for five weeks, however, Raphinha was handed an opportunity to prove his worth that he has taken with both hands.

On the road at Real Betis midweek, he scored the opener with his weaker right foot before Robert Lewandowski doubled the Blaugrana’s lead in an eventual 2-1 win.

It was no surprise that Raphinha got the nod for Sunday evening’s visit of Betis’ bitter rivals Sevilla to Camp Nou.

Though he was evidently more confident to try and take players on than seen before, Raphinha made Xavi angry on either side of the half time whistle on at least two breaks that amounted to nothing due to his poor decision making, as Barca struggled for a breakthrough.

Rewarded for his persistence, however, Raphinha set Gavi up with a superb assist that numerous Twitter fans and pundits said reminded them of Lionel Messi in his heyday. This was for the way the Brazil international cut into the box on his left foot, and then played a diagonal pass that eliminated a number of Sevilla shirts and found the 18-year-old at the back post.

Edging closer to full time, Raphinha got the goal he deserved and capped one of his best performances since joining the club as Barca headed eight points clear of Real Madrid at the La Liga summit with a 3-0 victory.

Speaking at full time, Xavi reinstilled his faith in the forward in the same post-match interview where he insisted Barca can win all the titles they have left to fight for.

“I was already satisfied with his work, because he is very generous in high pressure, he is intense and that is a guarantee of success for the team,” Xavi noted.

“Additionaly, he scores goals and gives assists. He has been doing it all season, but now he has chained two [good] games [together] and it seems that it will be more”.

SPORT praised Raphinha for being “much better” than before, and said that he has taken the step in front that Barca’s fans complained he hadn’t with two goals and an assist in his last two outings.

With Dembele still on the sidelines, the right wing is Raphinha’s for now providing Xavi doesn’t rejig the system considering a knock to captain Sergio Busquets.

Keeping his head down amid reports his agent Deco had been told he needed to improve his form, and othets that suggested he could be offloaded this summer as Barca need a big player sale, Raphinha has responded to the background noise in the perfect fashion.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomsanderson/2023/02/06/raphinha-takes-huge-step-forward-at-fc-barcelona-amid-sale-rumors/