Earlier in the week reports from Spain suggested that Barcelona had tied up a new two-year contract extension with Rafael ‘Rafinha’ Alcantara. This new deal was a reward for an excellent campaign last season with the Barcelona ‘B’ team and as a deterrent toward him leaving; as his previous deal expired next summer.
The 20-year-old midfielder had attracted interest from teams across Europe with his performances last season; with 10 goals in 36 games a more than healthy return for a midfielder.
That news was slightly premature; but not inaccurate as such. On Thursday, Rafinha did sign his new contract with Barcelona under the watchful eye of his father, Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho.
And he described himself very happy at the decision; even if it did mean he would spend next season out on loan:
"I am very happy to remain connected to the club. Contemplate given the option to leave. If I have to go [on loan] to get minutes, there will be no problem."
The latest rumour is he is likely to join Celta Vigo, where his father played for four years and is considered a cult hero, on loan for next season.
But Manchester United fans will be hoping this sudden feeling of admiration for his current club is not passed on to his older sibling.
Rafinha’s older brother is of course Thiago Alcantara; and whilst the younger of the two was in an office dedicating his future to the Catalan outfit; Thiago was elsewhere likely mulling over his next move as decision time mounts over his future.
Manchester United are ready to meet his €18 million buy-out clause which was activated due to a lack of playing time last season and so far all signs have pointed to Thiago wanting a move in order to gain more first-team football.
But the delay in wrapping up what seems a fairly straight forward deal has seen a section of United fans beginning to doubt his desire to leave Barca.
And they will now hope he doesn’t take a leaf out of his brother’s book and decide his future does lie in Barcelona; with a much bigger release clause set to follow.
image: © castroquini2011