X

Ernesto Valverde Says Barca Will Consider January Transfers After Rafinha Injury

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24:  Rafinha of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano on November 24, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has said the club will consider moving for a new midfielder in the January transfer window following the injury to Rafinha.

The Brazil international is set to undergo surgery following an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, leaving him sidelined for the foreseeable future. 

While Rafinha has not been a first-team regular, he has played his part this term, and Valverde said the club may consider an alternative, per Sam Marsden of ESPN:

"It's something we have to analyse. The injury came as a surprise, because of how it happened. He was able to finish the game against Atletico, then on Sunday [we find out the extent of the problem]. 

"We will have to look at everything. The January transfer window is close, so we will have to look at the circumstances and see what we do."

Barcelona's Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde looks on during a training session at Philips stadium in Eindhoven on November 27, 2018 on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group B football match between PSV Eindhoven and FC Barcelona. (Photo by Emmanuel
EMMANUEL DUNAND/Getty Images

Barcelona have a number of options in this area of the pitch. Philippe Coutinho has been missing lately but is capable of slotting into midfield, while the regulars this term have been Sergio Busquets, Arthur Melo and Ivan Rakitic. Arturo Vidal, Sergi Roberto and Denis Suarez provide back-up.

As Marsden relayed, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot and Ajax playmaker Frenkie de Jong have been linked with a move to the Camp Nou. Manchester United's Paul Pogba is also reported to have some admirers at Barcelona, while others at the club remain unconvinced.

Rafinha posted the following message on his Twitter account after his injury was confirmed: 

Rafinha Alcantara @Rafinha

https://t.co/d0iJ6RXFNM

While a high-class midfielder coming in in January would give Barcelona more security, some Cules would argue this is a chance to tap into the club's youth setup, especially after spending so much on this position already in 2018.

There's excitement about Carles Alena having impressed at La Masia, and at 20 years old, he will be keen to see more game time.

There have been signs that Valverde is ready to give him more of an opportunity lately, too: 

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Aleña for Busquets is a brave change by Valverde... Betis gonna get even more space to break now if they can keep their cool.

Players like De Jong and Pogba would be difficult to prise away from their current clubs in midseason, especially given both Ajax and United have progressed into the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Rabiot is a different prospect because his contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign, and PSG may be pressured into a sale as a result.

He's not the most popular man in Paris:

Get French Football News @GFFN

How PSG fans reacted to Adrien Rabiot today... https://t.co/BRNmi21Nkx

Stylistically, Rabiot shares a lot of traits with Rafinha. Both are left-sided, versatile in where they can be lined up in midfield and capable of carrying the ball vertically to unlock space.

If the Frenchman is available for a bargain amount midseason, then it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barcelona pursue a transfer. Otherwise, fans may prefer to see some of the next generation given an opportunity.