When Barcelona fought off Chelsea in the race to sign Raphinha from Leeds United last summer, it was seen as a major coup. The Blaugrana agreed on a deal worth €60 million, including add-ons, to sign the winger.
The Brazilian was coming on the back of a fine season at Leeds United and was seen as a player who could be a difference-maker in attack for the club.
However, midway through the campaign, things have not exactly worked out as expected for Raphinha at Barcelona. While the winger showed promise initially in the pre-season, his form, once the actual campaign started, has been worrisome.
Indeed, the winger, who recently turned 26, has been inconsistent and ineffective for large parts of the season. There was a brief period when he was not seen as a starter by manager Xavi Hernandez either.
Back at the club after a hit-and-miss World Cup run with Brazil, Raphinha’s performances will be under the scanner going forward, according to SPORT. And the club could consider parting ways with him in case the winger does not start delivering.
The coaching staff at Barcelona is hoping that having had enough time to adapt at the club, the forward will explode in the second half of the campaign and help the team win trophies.
In 18 matches thus far across all competitions, he has scored just two goals, which is not what the Blaugrana were expecting from him. His performances in Europe have left a lot to be desired as well.
The report states that Barça were aware that it would take time for Raphinha to adapt to the club, given that he had played at much smaller teams in his career. At the same time, his role at Camp Nou is different from what he was used to at previous clubs.
However, manager Xavi expects a lot more from the winger, especially in one-on-one situations as well as his goal output. So, they will assess his situation at the end of the campaign.
Raphinha’s situation has not helped, in part, by the uncertainty over his position. The winger generally prefers to play on the right flank but that slot is locked in by Ousmane Dembele, who is Xavi’s preferred choice.
Should Ansu Fati also gain prominence in the second half of the season, as Xavi believes he will, Raphinha’s game-time could take a further hit.
In that scenario, if the Brazilian international fails to explode and carve out a place for himself in the side, Barcelona could consider selling him in the summer window, with there being interest from the Premier League.
Raphinha, for his part, is understood to be aware that he must do more in the final third, where Barcelona have been often heavily reliant on Robert Lewandowski. Whether things improve for the 26-year-old in the coming months remains to be seen.