Rafael Alcántara do Nascimiento, more commonly known as Rafinha, is the 19-year-old younger brother of current Barcelona midfielder Thiago and son of Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho.
Rafinha currently plays an integral role on Barcelona’s B team, but could soon see a move to the first team.
The young Brazilian joined Barcelona’s fabled La Masia at the age of 13. Since then, he has worked hard during his time at the youth academy and was awarded his first team debut on November 9th, 2011 against L’ Hospitalet (via fcbarcelona).
The most recent game Rafinha was featured in for the first team was against Benfica in Barcelona’s last game of the Champions League group stage (via Goal).
Against Benfica, Rafinha showed he is far more mature than his tender age would suggest, something we have also seen in his brother.
However, unlike his brother who chose to play internationally for Spain, Rafinha has chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps by playing for Brazil (via Goal).
Style of Play:
The Brazilian has been well-hyped and shows great promise to eventually join the first team, though he has a ways to go before he will be called up permanently.
Rafinha has the ability to play in multiple attacking positions, but is best used as an attacking midfielder.
It is quite difficult to compare the style of the Brazilian with current Barcelona players. Rafinha is wonderful in possession, but does lack the passing ability of his older brother.
The 19-year-old does boast great speed which is one of his more defined traits. Rafinha is at his best when running at the defense, as his dribbling ability allows him to get into the box often in games.
Rafinha is also a wonderful defender. The Brazilian constantly tracks back and uses his speed and physicality to be a delightfully surprising ball winner in the midfield.
However, Rafinha does have areas that he must improve. His passing, as mentioned, is far off the pace of his first-team counterparts. And for all of the offensive ability he has, young Alcantara must improve his shooting.
Future at Barcelona:
It is no secret that breaking into the Barcelona first team is extremely difficult. But Rafinha actually has a very good chance to do just that.
He has taken on the Barcelona style very well and could provide trusted cover in the midfield as soon as next season. If the Brazilian continues to improve, there is no reason to believe that he will not be lining up with his brother soon.
We cannot know at this point if Rafael will eventually become a starter, but for now fans should expect more minutes and a possible promotion within the next two seasons.
Due to his skill, maturity and the club’s faith in him, Rafinha’s future with the club looks very bright. Here is to you Rafael Alcantara, may your hard work continue to pay off.
Be sure to check back next week as I deliver our next La Masia spotlight! Any player recently promoted and under is acceptable, so don’t forget to tell me who you want to see next week.
What do you guys think of Rafinha? Does he have a future in the club? You can leave your thoughts and comments below and don’t forget to tell me your picks for our next look into the future of Barcelona.
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