The favoritism one player benefits from has caused a rift between some FC Barcelona wingers and was one of the motives behind Ousmane Dembele’s summer exit to Paris Saint-Germain according to El Nacional.
Bought from Leeds United in 2022 as part of a deal worth up to $67.5 million (£55 million), Raphinha was represented by Deco at the time of his move.
When the former Barca and Portugal midfielder became the club’s sporting director a year later, though, the two parted ways as Deco was forced to dissolve his agency.
Barca is currently dealing with what has been described as as “crisis” on the field by the local media, after losing two of their last three games in the Champions League and depending on an injury time header from defender Ronald Araujo to seal a win at Real Sociedad last Saturday.
Fingers are starting to be pointed by fans and the press. And according to El Nacional, there is a rift in the squad caused by what some members believe is favoritism towards Raphinha that benefits the Brazilian.
El Nacional raises the point that Raphinha was considered a sellable asset in the summer but his potential exit “came to a standstill” when Deco arrived as sporting director.
In a development that is reportedly “incomprehensible” to some members of the team, Raphinha continues to be picked despite poor form at the end of last season and the beginning of this one.
Furthermore, it is explained that one of the reasons Ousmane Dembele departed for Paris Saint-Germain on the cusp of 2023/2024 was because of the way he saw Raphinha being ahead of the pack “without having deserved it”.
Lamine Yamal could be perceived as being the latest victim of preferential treatment after being snubbed for Tuesday’s Champions League defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk.
This didn’t go unnoticed by the player’s father according to El Nacional, as Lamine started from the bench and was brought on as part of a quadruple substitution that had little impact.
In fairness to Xavi and Raphinha, perhaps there was little in this. After all, the 16-year-old has to be rested sometimes and should not be overwhelmed if the plan is not to burn him out as seen with Ansu Fati and Pedri.
As for Dembele, it is likely that the offer of increased wages Barca can’t afford were the strongest factor in his decision to leave, and he also revealed in an interview with L’Equipe this week that the pull that PSG have as a Frenchman was also a primary motive.
With Barca mired in debts and struggling to navigate Financial Fair Play limits, while also looking to bring in fresh faces prior to next term, it is doubtful that Raphinha nor any other player is safe from the chop irrespective of his connections.