Raphinha’s name has been here, there and everywhere throughout the summer transfer window.
In the end, though, Raphinha’s personal desire to sport the red and blue stripes prevailed with the Catalan giants eventually collecting enough pennies under the sofa cushions to get a deal over the line.
Barcelona sign Raphinha
First things first, it’s a phenomenal signing for the Blaugrana because Raphinha never really got the credit he deserved for his superb performances across two seasons in the Premier League.
Despite playing for a team that eventually ran out of steam and evaded relegation by the skin of its teeth, the Brazil international still left England’s top-flight with a fantastic record of 17 goals and 12 assists from 65 outings.
And there’s every reason to believe that those sorts of numbers will do nothing but soar under the tutelage of Xavi and while surrounded by players who, with all due respect to Leeds, have a lot more in their locker.
Raphinha faces tough competition
However, Raphinha will still have to dig deep to make his Camp Nou switch worth the fuss because the competition in Barcelona‘s attacking positions is simply out of this world at the moment.
With everyone from Ferran Torres to Ousmane Dembele and Memphis Depay to Ansu Fati buzzing around the wide forward positions, Raphinha most certainly won’t be guaranteed a starting berth each week.
And that’s without mentioning the fact that Barcelona signed him to the tune of £49 million in the first place, which is quite the gamble when you consider the financial woes they’re currently wading through.
Raphinha thrives on his debut
However, the saying goes that ‘pressure makes diamonds’ and Raphinha definitely put his best foot forward when he pulled on the Barcelona jersey for the first time in pre-season this week.
The 25-year-old participated in the 6-0 annihilation of David Beckham’s Inter Miami with the likes of Dembele, Gavi and Depay all finding the net at the DRV PNK Stadium.
But it was the debut performance of Raphinha that truly caught the eye with the dazzling winger taking just 19 minutes to register his first assist for the club and then just six extra minutes to notch his inaugural goal.
Raphinha showed great tenacity to turn provider for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a fine one-two with Pedri, before displaying brilliant composure to score a left-footed volley at the back post.
And then, just for good luck, Raphinha bagged yet another assist by chipping a through ball into Fati’s path for him to volley emphatically past the goalkeeper.
Raphinha’s individual highlights
Marry that to just generally floating around the pitch with an aura and classiness about him to see exactly why Barcelona look to have taken a calculated risk by spending big on his services.
So, be sure you do yourselves a favour and see each one of Raphinha’s dazzling dribbles, intricate passes and general tenaciousness by checking out his individual highlights from his Barcelona debut down below:
Raphinha vs Inter Miami— K. (@34kvms) July 20, 2022
Debut for Barcelona pic.twitter.com/woP2qwkPlh
Pure, pure silk.
Raphinha could take La Liga by storm
Raphinha is just one of those players where simply the way in which they move, combining the elegance of a ballet dancer with the relentlessness of a pit bull, means you just can’t take your eyes off them.
It really is hard not to watch those highlights and feel as though the very essence of the way Raphinha plays fits hand in glove with what Xavi wants to bring back to Camp Nou.
Yes, he’s got the pure skill and technical ability to be a glamorous player at the sharp end of your front three, but he’s also got the work rate and street-smarts to dig out a result when it seems impossible.
So, sure insert the usual caveats about the fact it’s only a pre-season friendly against an MLS club and every one of those disclaimers is bang on the money, but Raphinha can only beat what’s put in front of him.
And it’s absolutely a case of so far, so good as he passed his Barcelona audition with flying colours. Xavi will just have to hope that there’s more where that came from.