New signing Raphinha has said that if he wins the Champions League with Barcelona, he would cross the Spotify Camp Nou on his knees.
Speaking in a candid interview with La Vanguardia, the Brazil international shed light on several aspects of his Barcelona career, including his conversation with Xavi, the difficult economic condition of the club as well as the reason behind rejecting Chelsea in the first place.
The 25-year-old, who signed from Leeds United for a reported €60 million fee including add-ons, started off with what surprised him the most about the club.
“Without a doubt, the warmth of the fans, the coaching staff and the players. They are all good people, always looking to help newcomers,” said the Brazilian.
Speaking further, he mentioned why he rejected Chelsea’s proposal to sign for the Blaugrana.
“I wanted to be a part of this. So that dream, those desires were stronger than any other proposal no matter how powerful it was financially,” he added.
Raphinha also mentioned that he had an indirect conversation with Ronaldinho and also had a word with Neymar before his move.
“Ronnie congratulated me through my father. Yes, I talk a lot with Neymar. He told me that if I came here he would not regret it. He is right.”
The 25-year-old hasn’t been among goals much so far this season, but he has indeed scored one and has assisted another. Interestingly enough, Raphinha hasn’t had to change his style much in Barcelona as Xavi has asked him to do exactly what he did at Leeds
He [Xavi] called me when I had practically decided to come. I ended up even more excited. He asks me what he was already doing in Leeds but with more tactics and without fear of finishing plays.
He also teaches me to know what I have to do technically and tactically to help the team both offensively and defensively,” he explained.
Barcelona were under immense pressure during the summer transfer market. Lack of funds followed by an excessive wage bill would mean even if they do sign the players, they wouldn’t be able to register them in the first place.
“Yes. I knew that I might have some difficulties coming and being registered. But he was also aware of the effort the club was making. So I decided to trust and adapt to the economic conditions that existed.”
Furthermore, the winger also revealed that it is Ansu Fati and Ronald Araujo with whom he gets along better.
“My colleagues received me very well and have helped me to adapt as best as possible. I speak with everyone, but above all with Ansu Fati and Ronald Araujo,” revealed the Brazilian.
Raphinha played a key role under his former manager Marcelo Bielsa, hence, when asked about the Argentinian’s style of play compared to Xavi, this is what the Brazilian had to say.
“Bielsa’s style is very peculiar, but he is always very respectful with the ball. Xavi is different, especially in the way he manages the team.”
Barcelona made some big-money signings this summer, but no one has made a bigger impact than Robert Lewandowski. The Poland forward has already scored eight goals this season and it is only the beginning, to say the very least.
“He [Lewandowski] is a great footballer. We all already knew. But when you are with him you see that he is much more than a leader.
We also have the talent of [Ousmane] Dembele, Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Memphis [Depay]… they all have immense quality and anyone who plays will give great results,” said the winger.
When asked about Ansu Fati’s current physical condition, Raphinha said that the teenager is only getting better.
All football players have ups and downs. One may be going through a moment that is not as good as he would have imagined, but it is a matter of adapting, putting his head down and seeing that the team is having great games.
“This helps you gain confidence, score goals and provide assists. I see Ansu getting better and better,” he added.
Barcelona have a total of four captains this season, namely, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto. Among the four only Busquets is a regular while the others have lost their place in the team. Speaking about them, the 25-year-old said,
“I think being a captain doesn’t just mean always playing and wearing the armband. It also means helping and sending positive messages to give confidence to the team. They comply with everything. They are great players and great captains on and off the pitch.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona started their UEFA Champions League campaign with an impressive 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen. Hence, when asked about the Blaugrana’s chances of winning the competition, Raphinha said,
“Of course. Apart from the talent that the team has, I think the most important thing is to have a winning mentality. And we have it.”
Lastly, he also said that if the team manages to bring the trophy home, he’d cross the Camp Nou on his knees.
“The same thing I did with Leeds when we managed to secure permanence. I will cross Camp Nou on my knees or on the field where we meet. It could very well be Istanbul,”he explained.