But as time rolls on, his dream — and even some Interisti dreams — of a reuniting of the Brazilian midfielder and Inter Milan seem to be dashing.
Just to replay:
Last season, Inter received Rafinha on loan with an obligation to purchase if the Nerazzurri were to reach the Champions League … which they did.
Rafinha continued to express a desire to make the move from Barcelona to Inter permanent as the season closed and the deadline to make the purchase inched near.
But, Inter turned back Rafinha because of Barcelona’s asking price of €38 million at the time. Even in some discussions, Barcelona management were unwilling to drop the price, even slightly.
As the summer ticked on, there were continued talks about perhaps another season-long loan deal between the two clubs, but nothing came to fruition.
All the while, Rafinha continued to express his desire to play at the San Siro permanently and not return to Spain.
Well, the transfer window closed and Inter didn’t splash the cash, Barcelona didn’t budge on the price and Rafinha wasn’t picked up by any other club.
Fast forward to now.
Rafinha has been limited on minutes this season at Camp Nou — managing just 109 minutes over the first part of the season.
As the January transfer window approaches, you can expect more discussion about Rafinha making a second trip to Milan to play for Inter. Of course, the only way it happens is if Barcelona come down significantly on its asking price or if a loan deal doesn’t include a purchase clause.
Regardless, when Inter travels to Barcelona on Oct. 24 for their Champions League meeting, it will be interesting. Perhaps even more interesting will be the return leg at the San Siro. What kind of reaction will Rafinha get?
But, the question has to be asked: Does Inter have a place for Rafinha?
If you look at the current midfield situation, we have Radja Nainggolan, Matias Vecino, Marcelo Brozovic, Borja Valero and Roberto Gagliardini. Nainggolan has already started to produce, as has Vecino.
Brozovic has had moments and Valero has been a nice option off the bench.
Gagliardini hasn’t played enough to really make a big impact. And, don’t even get me started on Joao Mario.
So, I ask again … is there a place for Rafinha on Inter’s roster?
Honestly, I don’t know. Pairing him with Nainggolan and Brozovic would be a pretty solid midfield with Vecino as an option depending on who we are playing. Valero would remain a good bench player, or could start to give someone rest … again, depending on who we are playing.
But, at €38 million, I just don’t see it. As much as I wanted to see it, I just can’t.
Rafinha has heart and has shown he can fit in with the team and with Luciano Spalletti. But, unless that price goes down to … I don’t know … €20 million or less … I don’t see the Nerazzurri pulling the trigger.
But, of course, I could be wrong.
What do you think? Post your comments below!