Of course, there was the Covid-19 and then a small muscle alert that kept Rafael Alcantara, says Rafinha, from the land for a few weeks. It started when he returned from vacation on January 2 with a positive coronavirus test. After his return to the group, the 28-year-old Brazilian was then slowed down by a muscle problem on February 10 against Caen, which caused him to miss two games.
All these annoyances partly explain the low playing time of the former Barcelona player since the start of the year and the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino at the helm of PSG. To date, Rafinha has accumulated 55 minutes in the field in two appearances against Nîmes and Monaco and no tenure at the option of five appearances in the group.
With the exception of young people from the training center like Timothée Pembélé, Rafinha is the only field player in the workforce not to have started a meeting under the Pochettino era. Hard to hear for a player who remained on a promising end of the year under the command of Thomas Tuchel.
Doubts about its potential
The new Parisian coach, very clinical, contented himself with recalling the facts mentioned above when it came to addressing the Rafinha case before the Coupe de France meeting against Caen (1-0 victory for Paris) February 10. “All decisions are sporting, retorted the Argentinian technician. In Rafa’s case, when we arrived he was affected by the Covid. We have a large workforce and we make choices. Not everyone can play, but it’s important to be prepared. We know that at some point there will be opportunities. “
In reality, the situation is a little more complex. What “Pocket” does not say, or cannot say, is that he has never been a big fan of the midfielder trained at La Masia, the training center of FC Barcelona. And, according to several sources, his doubts about the player’s potential do not date from today.
They were already relevant when the former defender was stationed in England and, in his eyes, they still escort the ex of Barça passed by Inter Milan and Celta Vigo. Where Tuchel praised an “exceptional” element, Pochettino sees a player unable to win at the Blaugrana, who released him last October.
“Stay motivated and focused”
Rafinha is certainly not fooled by this lack of confidence, and knows that he will have to redouble his efforts to win, at a minimum, in the rotation of PSG. For the moment, Sarabia, even Draxler, are regularly preferred to him when it comes to injecting new blood and a dose of creativity to the Parisian collective. His proximity to certain locker room executives like Neymar or Mauro Icardi has not, for the moment, been of any help, but the Argentinian technician can not ignore this parameter in his reflection.
“Those who play and those who don’t have to stay totally motivated and focused on what they want. Otherwise, you put your foot down, ”confided the Brazilian to the Parisian -Today in France, on February 14, speaking of him first. That said, Rafinha’s complicated situation is not crippling.
In Tottenham, Frenchman Moussa Sissoko had experienced a complicated first 2016-2017 season (12 starts in 34 games) with Pochettino at the helm, before becoming a part of the European vice-champion team in 2018-2019 (39 tenure in 44 games). There are grounds for hope in this example for a Rafinha capable of turning the situation around. But there is a way, and the slope is steep.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr