Wall Street Football

Old routes, new directions

Catalunya has always been an important stage for the affirmation of great champions: the connection with South America in particular has always provided great partnerships that have consecrated stars and made its most representative club, Barcelona, successful.

Before the Messi Era, the strongest Brazilian players of the last 20 years such as Romário, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho up to Neymar have been protagonists of that stage. Deco, former Barcelona player, now player’s agent, knows this very well and thanks to him Raphael Dias Belloli, known as Raphinha, joined the Blaugrana.

For 65 million Euro (plus bonuses), the Brazilian player arrived at Xavi’s court, despite the club’s financial problems which have been the focus of various debates.

The Club’s renewal, after years of darkness and uncertainty, was necessary. The young man from the suburbs of Porto Alegre has already played in 3 different leagues before getting to La Liga: first in Portugal between Vitória Guimaraes and Sporting Lisbon, then in France with Rennes and finally at Leeds in England where last year he had his season of definitive consecration as a mature player.

The 25-year-old Brazilian now faces the Spanish league, which is notoriously more technical and less physical than the English one, which perfectly matches his skills and characteristics.

Last season was the best in scoring terms for him, with 11 goals topped by 3 assists, he was a key weapon in the England team’s tactical chess board. 

A left-winger very skilful in one-on-one situations, able to play all over the attacking front and mainly used on the right wing to capitalize on the quality of his natural foot and make crosses and the last pass to his teammates.

Moreover, in the Season 2021-2022 he was in the top 10 players in the league for attempted and successful dribbles, averaging 1.8 per game with a 42% success rate.
However, his style of play very often led him to risk the game and therefore lose the ball: indeed, throughout the year he recorded an average of 20 lost balls per game, an enormity!
Surely his thin physical structure allows him to be agile and unpredictable, but in the Premier League these characteristics were also reflected in his poor ability to win duels. In fact, out of almost 12 attempted duels per game, he won only 5 with a low percentage (43%).

Compounding his own team’s placement, despite a historic 9th place placing for Leeds, the 15 defeats had a big impact on his WSF Performance Index. With 85 minutes played on average, he recorded an average index of 5.9 per game.

Raphinha WSF Performance Index – Season 2021/2022

The Brazilian striker has scored more goals, 7 precisely, in his team’s wins or draws, compared to the 4 in defeats. 

Moving to a top club like Barcelona should boost his performance, especially for the type of play demanded by Xavi who wants to return the club to the approach that took them to the roof of Europe, the tiki-taka.

He is among the top 15 players in the entire English League either for crosses (4.6 per game) or big chances created (on average 10 per match).

A good pass accuracy, almost 70% in his 21 successful passes and 1.7 key passes per game, combined with an excellent capacity to understand the play should guarantee him a starting place despite the competition on the wing side.

The first adjustment that the Spanish coach has to implement will certainly be on his shooting ability because, despite the large number of chances created, he shoots 2.5 times but only 0.7 times on goal on average.

The legacy is already written and it seems on the young player side who looks like the right profile to add the qualities that were missing in the team.

Will he be one of the keys to take Barcelona back to the top?

by Giorgio Patania, Elisa Zanchetta

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