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Why Barcelona must avoid selling €70 million-rated clutch forward at all costs this summer



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

In light of Barcelona’s sticky financial situation, the Catalans are keen on offloading players this summer. Departures are needed to secure a healthy wage bill as well as the fulfilment of certain priorities in the transfer market.

One of the names reportedly amassing great interest from suitors is Raphinha. The Brazilian joined Barcelona from Leeds United last season and ended up playing a crucial role in the Catalans’ La Liga title.

Although his exit would secure funds, with figures of around €70 million being talked about, losing Raphinha would gravely harm Barça’s sporting aspirations. As such, the La Liga champions must look to retain the South American, amidst growing interest, for the following reasons:

Chance-creation machine

When it comes to slicing defenses with line-breaking passes, it is hard to match Raphinha’s creative prowess. The Brazilian wields a gem of a right foot that creates openings out of thin air.

Raphinha is the player who has created the second-most big chances (16) in La Liga this past season, only behind Antoine Griezmann (21).

In a team that lacks natural creators capable of dismantling stubborn low blocks, Raphinha is an indispensable asset. The 26-year-old possesses an exceptionally diverse passing range.

His inswinging crosses and through balls tend to be his go-to options when looking to feed players. Raphinha ended the season with an impressive total of 12 assists. He tallied match-winning assists three times, playing provider for winners against Valencia, Getafe, and Atletico Madrid.

Off-the-ball specialist 

Raphinha moves fast, but he also moves smartly and that is one of his greatest weapons. In spite of being renowned as a top-class creator, there are certain intricacies in the Brazilian’s off-ball movements that make him incredibly hard to defend against.

While his markers do not have the same luxury, Raphinha can curve his run or just go parallel to the defenders. If done correctly, it practically makes the offside line obsolete.

For a player who thrives on making a difference on the ball, the winger’s understanding of space is highly underappreciated. Raphinha’s well-timed runs proved to be goal-contributors on many occasions this season.

The Brazilian’s match-winning goal versus Osasuna saw him make a curved run, accelerating at full speed before attacking the vacant space, and then turning behind the defender to score a fantastic header.

The 26-year-old scored in a similar situation against Valencia, encapsulating how well he moves into unguarded territory to create goalscoring situations.

Work rate

Raphinha is invariably willing to do the dirty work for the team. In addition to playing an important role on the ball with the creation of chances and dribbling ability, he is unafraid to also lend himself in recovery phases.

Barcelona are a team that have always preached a high line with great emphasis on attacking the opposition at every realistic possibility, but such an identity leaves the team prone to chaotic transitions at times.

Making up for the disorganisation that the Blaugranas have often fallen victim to, the player puts a great deal of effort into retreating on the break and defending for his side.

Unlike typical Brazilian entertainers, Raphinha works his socks off out of possession and works tooth and nail to ensure loose balls are scavenged. Wingers with such work rates and stamina are a rare commodity, which makes Raphinha’s presence all the more multifaceted.

Clutch factor

Clutch. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Raphinha’s goal contributions directly won Barcelona 15 points this past season in La Liga. The player has a knack for scoring in high stake situations, which makes him a clutch option to have in the ranks.

Raphinha came in clutch versus a multitude of teams. Against Valencia, his peach of a cross toward Robert Lewandowski in the 93rd minute ensured a late victory. Moreover, an incredibly well-timed header vs Osasuna in the 85th minute saw Barça head into the World Cup as league leaders.

Various other instances such as goals vs Athletic Bilbao established the forward as a crucial contributor in difficult stages.

While Barcelona endured a difficult patch in the Champions League and Raphinha struggled to showcase his best version owing to him playing out of position, the 26-year-old played one of his best games in the Europa League knockout stage vs Manchester United.

Despite losing the second leg, Raphinha completed a goal and assist in the tie. Such moments of qualitative advantage are key in the knockout stages.

It is worth noting that oftentimes when the system is failing, difference-makers like Raphinha override such collective shortcomings.

In Raphinha’s first season for the Blaugranas, he has accumulated 10 goals and 12 assists and concluded the campaign with the second-highest G/A in the team, behind Robert Lewandowski.

Given that he still has a lot more to offer, selling the forward now would be an immature decision, fueled by impatience. The fact that Raphinha has surpassed Neymar’s G/A tally (24) in his first season at Barcelona is indicative of the potential he possesses.

Looking at the highly qualified traits he boasts of, retaining Raphinha will likely bode success in the upcoming season, and selling him now would simply be a rash move.

Player valuation in title obtained from on date of publication.

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