Ahead of Ousmane Dembele’s injury against Girona in late January, Raphinha’s future at Barcelona was shrouded in uncertainty. The Brazilian was their most expensive signing of last summer’s window (€58m), but was looking someway short of the desired impact.
However in the Frenchman’s absence, the continuity in his favoured position has seen Raphinha step up in a number of important moments. As Sport point out, he is now second top-scorer at Barcelona after Robert Lewandowski, moving onto 9 goals and 9 assists for the season. With 18 goal contributions in 37 games, he is averaging just under one every two appearances.
His winner against Athletic was the second in successive weeks, both from Sergio Busquets’ assists. It increases the total of points that Barcelona have gleaned directly from his goals to 12 for the season, highlighting just how decisive he has been.
While those statistics are hypothetical, it does show that Raphinha has stepped up to give his team the edge. His future at the club is looking increasingly secure as a result.