Tuesday January 23 2018
Is Rafinha the answer for Inter?

Arriving on loan with option to buy from Barcelona, Rafinha represents more of an opportunity than a gamble for Inter, writes Richard Hall.

Rafinha has arrived at Inter with an air of possibility and, at the same time, of puzzlement. The Nerazzurri have now become the masters of the ‘try now, buy later’ deal, particularly when it comes to not making those moves permanent in the end. When all is said and done, it does lighten expectations.

He comes from an illustrious footballing family, as his father Mazinho won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil and played in Serie A, whilst his brother Thiago Alcantara plays for Bayern Munich. This does not guarantee success, as the midfielder has only started 17 games in the last two seasons for Barcelona. Admittedly, this is down to an ACL injury and various hamstring issues that have all come on top of other fitness problems, he certainly hasn’t been lucky in that department.

Perhaps if he had stayed injury free then he may have been able to break into the ranks at Barcelona, as he has exceptional quality. It is true that under Luis Enrique he did flourish at times in a 3-4-3 formation where he was deployed on the right-hand side of midfield. His pace and quality to drift into the centre made many believe that even after his injury, he would still have a place under Ernesto Valverde.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, by the time he was fully recovered, he could see both Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho in front of him and even Barça B starlet Carles Aleña was looking to push in.

Playing time is what brought Rafinha to Italy, but it will be hard to see how he initially fits into Luciano Spalletti’s version of 4-2-3-1. Rafinha likes to drift into offensive areas both out wide and behind the front two/three. When Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were at Barcelona, he would often come from wide positions to join the assault by drifting inside. This would at first see him as a perfect option to play wide instead of Antonio Candreva, as he could support Mauro Icardi in a more direct way by cutting in from the flanks.

Perhaps more interestingly is the very real threat he could pose by playing as an offensive central midfielder or trequartista. Spalletti has long bemoaned the failings of Joao Mario and Marcelo Brozovic in these positions, so here Rafinha may just be able to do what no creative player has been able to and supply Icardi.

At Camp Nou he was possibly the most dangerous when he was at his skilful and industrious best operating in these areas as (even when he played wide) he would drop deep to pick up the ball and then drive forward on the offensive. This stopped Messi, who at the time was constantly coming deep to get the ball, from having to do this work. Icardi has been tracking back more and more this season and that means he is not playing to his strengths.

Whether Rafinha is going to be the catalyst that allows the Nerazzurri to recapture their form is still debatable. The fact that SPAL, Crotone, Bologna, Genoa and Benevento are all on the horizon however, may allow him to ease into life in Serie A and potentially give his new team a second option.

This deal allows Inter to shirk most of the risk factor and, if he can stay away from injury, perhaps Rafinha might turn out to be a bargain.

Have your say...
A couple things here; 1st. 30Mil investment just completed his all expenses paid loan to his former club, in a time when Inter are in dire need of a second striker to help Icardi. 2nd. Rafinha is brought in to cover a position that 3 different Inter players are capable of covering while a lack of defensive options has been bemoaned all season long?!?! And people wonder why Inter is called crazy
on the 25th January, 2018 at 10:23pm
The rest could be just a wishful pipedream as well..........
No certainties in football, except that the best team should always win, except when robbed.
At leat 9 Serie A Scudettos were stolen (rubati) from the mighty Juventus "bacheca".
on the 25th January, 2018 at 12:27am
Great 'potential' coup! If it works out everyone looks like a genius if it doesn't he goes back. The real problem is that if he does not work out it could mean Inter will have to fight tooth and nail for that last CL spot. He's got the quality and skills, the key is for him to stay healthy and for Spalleti to actually play him. Think of Sneijder when he joined Inter late in the transfer window, Mou played him straight away and the rest, well, the rest is sweet history. Forza Inter!
on the 24th January, 2018 at 6:44pm
No, not Rafinha, but Ronaldo could be the answer.
on the 24th January, 2018 at 2:08am
Well, if Ronaldo is really on the market, he could very well be the answer for Inter.
Ronaldo............... Great player!

I don't think so, somehow.......
on the 23rd January, 2018 at 7:58pm
Highly motivated to play games, Barcelona genes, it's not a gamble but we need to use the players we have better... Spalletti has to start playing Dalbert as first choice because he gives us a lot of attacking potential (from his runs, and giving Perisic more room) and give Yann Karamoh and Pinamonti some time on the pitch... I want Eder to stay but at the same time leave so he can get regular playing time... Broz stay, Joao definitely go, and make Cancelo WANT to stay, stay, stay!!!
on the 23rd January, 2018 at 1:58am
Great signing for inter - if he can stay on the park. Exactly what the team is missing and his attacking ability will stretch defences. Combined with Icardi should prove a deadly duo (not to mention candreva and perisic too). Best of all Valero can play his preferred regista role where he has shined this season. Anyone who doubts his ability only has to watch his videos. Barca didn't want to give him up for a reason. Just has to stay injury free.
on the 23rd January, 2018 at 1:53am

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