Rafinha (footballer, born February 1993)
Rafael Alcântara do Nascimento (born 12 February 1993), commonly known as Rafinha ([ʁɐˈfiɲa]), is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Spanish club Celta, on loan from Barcelona, and the Brazil national team.
|Full name||Rafael Alcântara do Nascimento|
|Date of birth||12 February 1993|
|Place of birth||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
(on loan from Barcelona)
|2013–2014||→ Celta (loan)||32||(4)|
|2018||→ Inter Milan (loan)||17||(2)|
|2019–||→ Celta (loan)||0||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 31 August 2019|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 20 August 2016
He started his career with Barcelona, making his debut with the first team in 2011. After a loan at Celta, he played his first La Liga match for the former club in 2014.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Rafinha joined Barcelona's youth ranks at the age of 13. On 8 January 2011 he made his professional debuts with the B-team, coming on as a substitute for Jonathan dos Santos in the 55th minute of a 1–2 home loss against Girona for the Segunda División. A week later, again off the bench and for the same competition, he scored his first goal in a 3–2 win at Salamanca, also adding an assist.
Rafinha made his debut with the senior Barcelona squad on 9 November 2011, taking the place of Cesc Fàbregas for the last 15 minutes of a 1–0 away win over Hospitalet for the Copa del Rey. He finished the league season with 39 games – 35 starts – and eight goals for the reserves, including two in a 4–0 success at Cartagena on 4 September of the same year.
On 27 June 2013, Rafinha extended his contract with Barça, keeping him at the club until 2016. A few weeks later, he was loaned to fellow La Liga team Celta, and made his debut in the Spanish top flight on 19 August, helping the Galicians to a 2–2 home draw against Espanyol. He scored his first league goal 12 days later in another draw at the Balaídos (1–1, with Granada).
Rafinha netted a brace at Real Sociedad on 23 November 2013, but it amounted to nothing as the hosts won 4–3 with four goals from Carlos Vela. He was voted the league's Breakthrough Player of the Season, ahead of Real Madrid's Jesé and Rayo Vallecano's Saúl Ñíguez.
Rafinha made his league debut for Barcelona on 24 August 2014 in Luis Enrique's first match in charge, playing the first half of an eventual 3–0 win over Elche at the Camp Nou before being replaced by Marc Bartra. On 25 November, he assisted Lionel Messi's goal in a 4–0 group stage triumph at APOEL, which made him the outright top scorer in the history of the UEFA Champions League; however, he was also sent off for two bookings later on in the match.
Rafinha scored his first goal for the Blaugrana on 3 December 2014, concluding a 4–0 away win against Huesca in the first leg of the Spanish Cup's last 32 (12–1 aggregate). The following 1 February, he recorded his first goal for the team in the domestic league, part of a 3–2 home triumph over Villarreal. They went on to win the treble, with the player being an unused substitute in the domestic and European finals.
With compatriot Neymar out through illness, Rafinha started on the left of Barcelona's attack in the 2015 UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in Tbilisi, scoring the third goal in a 5–4 win. On 16 September he suffered a torn right anterior cruciate ligament during the 1–1 away draw to Roma for the Champions League group phase, leaving the game on a stretcher after being on the receiving end of a heavy challenge from Radja Nainggolan; after surgery, he was expected to be out for about six months.
Rafinha scored six times in only 18 appearances in the 2016–17 campaign, but also had to undergo surgery to an internal meniscus ailment following a match against Granada in April 2017, going on to be sidelined until the end of the year.
On 22 January 2018, Inter Milan announced the acquisition of Rafinha on a loan with an option to buy for €35 million. He made his debut for the club six days later by entering in the last moments of the 1–1 draw against SPAL. He scored his first goal on 6 May, in the 4–0 away defeat of Udinese.
On 24 November 2018, Rafinha broke the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee during a 1–1 draw at Atlético Madrid, being again sidelined for several months. On 2 September 2019, immediately after extending his contract until 2021, he rejoined Celta on a season-long loan.
Rafinha played for Spain at youth level, earning 14 caps for three different teams. On 29 February 2012, he scored for the under-19s in the first minute of their 2–1 friendly win over France in Meaux.
Later that year, however, Rafinha switched allegiance to Brazil, going on to represent the under-20 side at the 2013 South American Youth Championship in Argentina. He was one of seven stand-by players named by Dunga for the senior team at the 2015 Copa América.
In September 2015, Rafinha was called up by Dunga for friendlies against Costa Rica and the United States. On 5 September, he entered the former game at New Jersey's Red Bull Arena in the 81st minute in place of Luiz Gustavo. Four days later, a minute after taking the field against the latter, he scored his first goal, then assisted clubmate Neymar in a 4–1 win.
Rafinha's father, Mazinho, was also a footballer and a midfielder, notably winning the 1994 FIFA World Cup with Brazil. His mother Valéria played volleyball, while his elder brother, Thiago – another midfielder – also emerged through Barcelona's youth ranks, going on to represent its first team and the Spain national side.
- As of match played 31 August 2019
|Barcelona B||2010–11||Segunda División||9||1||—||9||1|
|Celta (loan)||2013–14||La Liga||32||4||1||0||—||33||4|
|Inter Milan (loan)||2017–18||Serie A||17||2||0||0||—||17||2|
|Celta (loan)||2019–20||La Liga||0||0||0||0||—||0||0|
- As of 8 September 2015 (Brazil score listed first, score column indicates score after each Rafinha goal)
|1.||8 September 2015||Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, United States||United States||3–0||4–1||Friendly|
- Copa del Rey Juvenil: 2011
- La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2018–19
- Copa del Rey: 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18
- Supercopa de España: 2016, 2018
- UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2015
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- "Rafinha says goodbye to the season: Breaks his anterior cruciate knee ligament". Marca. 25 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
- "Rafinha renueva con el Barcelona hasta 2021 y se marcha cedido al Celta" [Rafinha renews with Barcelona until 2021 and goes to Celta on loan] (in Spanish). Europa Press. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
- "'Un dos nosos' para cerrar una ilusionante plantilla: Rafinha llega al RC Celta" [‘Un dos nosos’ (‘One of ours’ in Galician) to complete an exciting squad: Rafinha arrives at RC Celta] (in Spanish). Celta Vigo. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- "España 6 Islas Feroe 0" [Spain 6 Faroe Islands 0]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 16 October 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
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- "La sub 19 vence a Francia" [The under-19s defeat France]. Marca (in Spanish). 29 February 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
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