What does 3 goal, 5 assists 21-year-old mean for Cesc Fabregas?

Fabregas Barcelona

Gerardo Martino is reportedly interested in investing time in 21-year-old Barcelona midfielder Rafinha.

Catalan newspaper Sport suggested yesterday that 21-year-old attacking midfielder Rafinha is one of the players Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino wants to use more in his first team over the next couple of years.

The player, who has represented both Spain and Brazil in his career, is on loan at Celta Vigo for the rest of the season and has produced three goals and five assists from 22 appearances in the league.

The seemingly obvious player under threat in the Barcelona first team is Cesc Fabregas, a midfielder who plays a similar role at the top of Barcelona’s attack and a player who has been linked with moves away from the Nou Camp with Arsenal and Manchester United thought to be interested.

However, rather than a return to Arsenal or a fresh challenge at Old Trafford, there are several reasons why extra exposure for Rafinha in the Barcelona first team could compel Fabregas to stay.

Fabregas is now one of the senior players at the Nou Camp, he’s a different animal from the player who was first at Arsenal.

Fabregas’ ultimate dream at Barcelona is to emulate Xavi. It’s something he’s commented on before and it’s something which seems to have tied him down to the Spanish champions when he could have already walked away.

Rafinha coming into the squad is someone that Fabregas may feel he has to step up and protect in the same way that Xavi and Andres Iniesta first took care of him when he returned to the Nou Camp from Arsenal.

Fabregas also has the experience of what it’s like to be a young, underdeveloped player at a top flight European club as he was used by Arsenal regularly as a teenager.

This is not the sort of decision from Martino which could force Fabregas away from the Nou Camp because he’ll see it as a personal challenge to make someone like Rafinha a different and better player.

Fabregas seems to have an ethos related to becoming a Barcelona great which is what forced him back to the club and one of the ways he can do that is to emulate the responsibility and leadership of Iniesta, Xavi and even Carles Puyol from the defence.

It’s different if Martino showed his hand and decided to bring in a much more established, older and experienced player such as with the recent speculation over a £50 million move for David Silva.

image: © ins11thiago

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch