Speaking at a press conference on the eve of Brazil’s FIFA World Cup 2022 opener against Serbia (h/t MARCA), head coach Tite’s assistant, Cleber Xavier, has given his take on the situation of Barcelona winger Raphinha.
The 25-year-old Brazilian international arrived at Barcelona in the summer transfer window, signing from Premier League outfit Leeds United.
While he looked good in the pre-season, Raphinha failed to take off as expected in the early parts of the 2022/23 campaign. It even led to him losing his starting spot in manager Xavi Hernandez’s side for an extended period.
However, prior to the World Cup break, Raphinha seemed to have rediscovered some form as he scored one goal and set up three more in his previous four appearances for Barça across all competitions.
And talking about his situation at Barcelona when he went through a phase without regular minutes, Cleber Xavier said that the competition for places is not something that affects Raphinha, insisting that the 25-year-old is strong mentally.
“We have been with him in this phase in which he has not started at Barcelona and had few minutes. He has great mental strength. He is fighting for a position with Dembélé and it does not affect him, quite the opposite. He has a lot to give us,” he said.
In total, Raphinha has played 18 times for Barcelona this season, scoring two goals and setting up four more.
Now with the Brazil squad for the World Cup, the ex-Leeds winger will compete with the likes of Antony, Rodrygo Goes and Richarlison, among several others, for a starting berth.
The Barcelona ace has an impressive record on the international stage though, having scored five goals in just 11 matches for Brazil. He will be looking to add to that tally over the next few weeks and help the Selecao go all the way in the World Cup.