Slightly clickbaity headline – sorry. It’s Rafinha from Barcelona that Leeds United are interested in. Let me repeat that slowly for my own benefit. Leeds United are interested in R…a…f…i…n…h…a from B…a…r…c…e…l…o…n…a.
Again, like the Ambassador from the Ferrero Rocher ads of the 80s, we are truly being spoiled this window.
A Spanish international in Rodrigo comes in for a club-record £27m. A German international in Koch comes in for around the £13m mark. There’s talk of £30m interest in Argentinian Rodrigo De Paul. There’s even interest in Josko Gvardiol, a Croatian 18-year-old defender whose side want in the region of £17.8m-or-so.
Now, R…a…f…i…n…h…a from B…a…r…c…e…l…o…n…a. Madness.
Rafinha, or Rafael Alcantara do Nascimento to give him his Sunday name, came through the famed La Masia academy system at the Catalan giants, moving from the youth system to the Under-16s in 2007. The 27-year-old has been in Barca first-team set-up since 2013. He has 90 first-team appearances (12 goals/8 assists) under his belt as well as 84 appearances (19 goals/8 assists) for Barcelona’s B side.
Here’s a little look and analysis of his 1,384 minutes played on loan to Celta Viga last season.
A look at Rafinha – what he does and where
The above graphic, courtesy of Smarterscout, shows Rafinha’s game actions across last season: what they were, where they were and the frequency that they happened. As a central midfielder, which is what he largely played on loan at Celta Vigo last season, you can see that he has game actions across the field.
In his own half, especially closer to his own goal (left), he is less active with the majority of his actions being short passes (blue) with some longer passes (yellow) and dribbles (purple). Moving into the midfield area in his own half, the number of short passes are still there but we start to see more medium-range passes (green) coming in to play.
Stepping over into the midfield area of the opposition half, he is obviously more ‘busy’ and this can be seen by the size of the blocks that appear. In the central areas, his passing tends to be more focused on medium-range passes (green) with him having a tendency to favour shorter (blue) passes on both flanks. He also likes to get into/around the area and take shots (grey).
What the Spanish press are saying
Interest from Leeds has been reported by Catalan-based Spanish publication Sport who tend to have their ear to the ground when it comes to all things Barca. They report that Leeds United “knocks on Rafinha’s door” as they look towards signing him. They also add that Rafinha “continues with the illusion of playing in the Premier League with his brother Thiago“; Thiago being on the verge of a move to Liverpool. He is available for, say Sport, “16 million euros, which is stipulated from Celta de Vigo as a buy-back option” – that’s around £14.3m in the Queen’s Sterling.
£14.3m is not that much in today’s market for someone like Rafinha. It would also be a family reunion on more than one level as he’d get to meet up with his cousin Rodrigo at Elland Road.