Barcelona don’t want to sell Raphinha, but his exit could be key in the Messi operation
Barça’s idea is not to sell the Brazilian, but he could be useful in bringing Messi to the club.
The Premier League’s money-fuelled clubs have one eye on FC Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Raphinha. Some of England’s most historic and wealthy teams such as Arsenal, Spurs and Newcastle are following the player who has generated non-stop debate at Camp Nou in a season where he has managed 9 goals and 10 assists so far, bettering the numbers of his main competitor, Ousmane Dembélé (4 goals and 9 assists in his first season). Despite the difference in statistics, many fans have criticised Raphinha and expected more output from the ex-Leeds United forward during his first campaign in Spain.
The conclusions that the critics have arrived at are somewhat questionable, but the debate has also reached the director’s box, with some executives at the club thinking that Raphinha must stay, while others consider the economic benefits his sale could bring.
Barça say Raphinha is not for sale
Barça’s situation in terms of money has been well documented, and with the desire to see Lionel Messi return to the club, the situation at Barça is one of desperation. The renovation of certain players’ contracts is also on the agenda: left-back Balde’s new deal, as well as fitting Gavi and Araújo into the tight salary cap, all make the future of Raphinha unclear.
The official message coming from the corridors at Camp Nou is that Raphinha is not up for sale. He has a contract until 2027 and up to 80% of the fee paid of the winger is still due to be given to Leeds. But this does not mean he is untouchable: a mega-money offer from the Premier League would shake things up and Raphinha, who is valued at around €50 million, would go from being not for sale to being on a plane to England, with the fee used to pull further strings in ‘Operation Messi’.
Despite key performances, Raphinha believes he is undervalued
An explosive player in more ways than one, Raphinha himself has the impression that he is undervalued at the club. For example, Xavi preferred Dembélé over the Brazilian to play on the right wing and once the Frenchman won his place in the starting XI, Raphinha found it difficult even to get off the bench at times during the early stages of the season.
Despite amazing performances like that against Atlético last weekend, playing a part in key goals (against Osasuna and Valencia) and having more than respectable statistics, Raphinha feels that he has not yet won the confidence of either the manager or the fans, something which could push him closer to a Premier League return.