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Rafinha: Barcelona’s Secret Weapon?

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Malcom or Dembélé were supposed to fill in for Messi. What if Rafinha does?

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

With Lionel Messi out injured, Barcelona are obviously handicapped. But what if they had a winger on the bench who cost more than 100 million, who has already contributed in goals and earning the team points? Or what if they had a guy on the bench who was their costliest signing of the summer, who also was a winger?

I’m talking about Ousmane Dembélé and Malcom, of course. They have to be, if not starters, the guys to substitute any starting winger. Right?

Dembélé was the chosen man when Messi went off injured, but he had a very hit-and-miss match, particularly in the second half against Sevilla. And his overall attitude, even when taking a long time to warm up is considered, was not the best.

Malcom is an option but he’s barely played, and to throw him into the deep end and start him against Inter Milan and Real Madrid in el clásico is a big ask.

Sure, those were the first names anyone thought of. But Valverde might opt for someone else - Rafinha.

The La Masia graduate wasn’t even really supposed to be here, he was supposed to be sold to Inter (funny enough), and even as the transfer window was closing, he was trying to engineer a loan move to Real Betis.

He had a very good preseason, although his matches afterwards have left something to be desired. He’s played mainly as a midfielder, but he can operate as a winger. Certainly, Valverde who is a bit more cautious than the last few Barcelona managers, would appreciate a player who does some defensive work from the wings.

It still seems wrong to not go with Dembélé. And there are other options - for example, Sergi Roberto on the wing, and Nélson Semedo at right-back. But there are whispers that Valverde sees Rafinha as his secret weapon as Barcelona face two big matches.