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Flourishing at last: Raphinha starting to deliver for Barcelona after a slow start



Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

When Barcelona beat the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal to the signing of Raphinha in the summer, there was a lot of joy and excitement. The Brazilian, after all, was coming on the back of a fine season at Leeds United.

But it has not been smooth sailing for the winger at Spotify Camp Nou. The 26-year-old struggled to make a mark in the initial parts of the season and found it hard to break into Xavi’s plans.

Given his slow start to life at Barcelona, speculations over his future had already started to do the rounds heading into the January window. Arsenal, for one, were said to be interested in Raphinha during the winter.

While Barça did not entertain the prospect of parting ways with the former Rennes ace, the possibility of a summer sale has been suggested as the club will need to generate revenue to address their Financial Fair Play issues.

Raphinha stepping up for Barcelona

Amidst question marks over his quality and consistency, and the rumours of a possible summer exit, Raphinha is starting to show that he very much belongs at Barcelona.

The 26-year-old has really stepped up of late for the Blaugrana, emerging as a key player in recent matches.

Indeed, Raphinha’s first 14 matches for Barça yielded a poor return of just one goal and one assist. But things have improved drastically in recent times.

In his previous 15 appearances for the Catalan giants, the winger has produced a tally of five goals and seven assists. With eight assists to his name, Raphinha has now become the player with the most assists for Barcelona this term, overtaking Ousmane Dembele’s tally of seven.

He has also scored six goals across all competitions, making him the joint third-highest goal-getter for the Blaugrana, with only Robert Lewandowski and Dembele netting more.

Coming into his own. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

What’s more, the Brazilian has been involved in eight goals since the start of 2023 (4G, 4A) in all competitions – the most by a La Liga player.

At a time when Dembele has been injured, Raphinha has taken the mantle upon himself and is making a difference for the team, while also lowering the burden on Lewandowski in the final third.

While he might not be the flashiest player on the pitch, the 26-year-old has proven to be a hard-working individual who keeps on trying to make things happen relentlessly and his efforts are now starting to pay off in a huge way.

Furthermore, Raphinha has also shown the knack of delivering the goods when it matters the most for Barcelona, proving himself to be a clutch player.

He scored the winning goal against Osasuna before the World Cup break, and assisted Ansu Fati’s winner in the Copa del Rey encounter versus Intercity, while he also created the winner against Getafe in La Liga last month.

It was followed by the opening goal in a tough game against Real Betis while he had a hand in all three goals Barcelona scored against Sevilla last night, netting one and assisting one more. Along with all this, one cannot ignore his defensive contributions off the ball.

After an underwhelming start to life as a Barcelona player, Raphinha is slowly but surely starting to establish himself in Xavi’s team. Should he continue on this path for the remainder of the season, all talk of his exit is certain to dissipate.

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