FC Barcelona began their rebuild recently with the capture of Brazilian attacker Raphinha from Leeds United.
It’s been a year since Lionel Messi left the club with an emotional press conference and has not been a happy year for Barcelona. They went out of the Champions League after a humbling 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich and were then dumped out of the Europa League as well, with CNN explaining how Eintracht Frankfurt grabbed a stunning 3-2 victory at Camp Nou.
Xavi, the manager who replaced Ronald Koeman after the Champions League exit, wants to ensure his side does not fail to emerge from the group stages again this season. They finished second in La Liga and have added Leeds United winger Raphinha to their ranks. The 25-year-old was also coveted by Chelsea, who were willing to meet the €60m (₹4.8bn) asking price, with Barcelona struggling to do so. The Catalan giants may be seeking a fortune change, but they’re still deeply in debt, and the fee was thought to be beyond them. Marca reports the two clubs have now agreed upon a €55m (₹4.4bn) with add-ons, making him one of the first expected big signings at Camp Nou this summer.
The move is expected to add further firepower to the Barcelona ranks as they seek to erase the humiliation of not getting out of the Champions League group stages. They’re one of the biggest names in world football, and despite last season’s failings, they rank as sixth-favourite to win the Champions League in the latest Coral football betting odds. Given that they’ve won it four times since the turn of the century but only failed to emerge from the group stage twice, it’s fair to assume they’ll be tipped no matter what happens this summer.
Will Raphinha help them towards their aims? The 25-year-old has had a steady ascent to the European giants, having begun his career with Avai in his homeland. He moved to Portugal as a youngster, playing for Vitoria de Guimaraes before switching to Sporting CP. His success in Portugal led the French side Rennes to sign him in 2019, paying €21m (₹1.6bn). It was a transfer record for the club and a wise investment. He helped them to third place in their domestic league and Champions League qualification for the first time in their history.
That prompted Leeds to pay a similar fee as they earned Premier League promotion, and in two years, he helped the Yorkshire side with 17 goals in 67 matches. They struggled against relegation from the Premier League, staying up on the season’s final day, and with big clubs circling, Raphinha was on the move again.
He’s now aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow Brazilians Neymar and Ronaldinho to become a Barcelona star player. “I saw Ronaldinho come here and achieve so much and after that Neymar as well,” he told Barca TV. “For me as a Brazilian to come here, it’s an honour. I hope to reach the same objectives that those two players achieved. This is a dream come true for me, not just for me but also for my friends and family.”
If he helps them to the latter stages of the Champions League final and begins to erase the memory of a South American who departed a year ago, he may well achieve those goals.