It could be third time lucky for Arsenal in their pursuit of Barcelona midfielder, Rafinha.
The younger brother of Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, he is currently out injured for the season, but his rehabilitation is going well and he’s already looking forward.
That type of planning should really include looking for a new club, and Arsenal are known to retain an interest, despite recently relieving the Catalans of another of their midfield starlets, Denis Suarez.
Unai Emery, like Arsene Wenger before him, is a fan of the Brazilian’s no-nonsense style of play.
Though there’s nothing fancy about him in the sense that he won’t readily get you out of your seat, Rafinha is a rock-solid addition for any team and it’s those kind of players that the Gunners could do with at the moment.
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After a stunning start to 2018/19 which included a decent spell unbeaten, the north Londoners have gone a little bit ‘powder puff’ again.
Having someone competitive in amongst it, especially with Aaron Ramsey departing, is a must, and Rafinha fits the bill.
He was apparently offered to Arsenal back in the summer of 2017, when a fee of €30m-plus was mooted, but club president Josep Maria Bartomeu refused to entertain offers for the versatile Brazilian.
Things have changed since then, however.
A year ago, he was again offered to the Gunners, as well as Inter, and it was to the latter where he went on loan for the remainder of the campaign, with a purchase option of €35m.
Despite being a decent performer in Serie A, he was unable to secure a permanent move because of the Italians’ Financial Fair Play obligations and he returned to the Blaugrana.
A move to Real Betis then almost came to fruition last summer, but with both teams unable to agree upon the structure of the deal, Rafinha once again stayed put, being told that he would be part of Ernesto Valverde’s plans moving forward.
A handful of cursory appearances aside, that statement has proved to be inaccurate with the player again on the fringes of the squad and unable to make a position his own.
Even countryman, and newcomer, Arthur Melo, has jumped ahead of him in the pecking order, but it’s no reflection on him, Arthur just suits Valverde’s style better.
His heart will always be in Catalonia, but Rafinha knows that in order to progress professionally, he has to move away to move forward.
With injury again playing its part in stalling his career, it’s debatable that Barcelona will still be able to demand north of €30m, and to that end, Arsenal would be getting themselves a bargain.
A Champions League and Olympic Games gold medal winner, Rafinha is still only 25 and has the best years of his career ahead of him.
As fees in the transfer market continue to sky rocket, to get a player of his quality and at his age, a figure of €50m isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. So if Emery is able to get the midfielder for around half that, then clearly there is value in the acquisition.
A player who gives his all, he’ll quickly become a fan favourite, and those supporters worried that Ramsey’s departure will herald another period of underachievement will soon be proved wrong.
The only possible issue that Rafinha himself needs to be concerned with is an over-exuberance so quickly after coming back.
He’ll want to impress any new employer, but he needs to be eased in gently before being unleashed to produce his best work.
Simply put, Arsenal have to be at the head of the queue.