Rafinha Alcantara has been left out of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League squad after a summer move to Aston Villa fell through, as reported by Sky Sports.
At least Thiago’s little brother is among friends at the Parc des Princes.
Rafinha has fellow Selecao stars Neymar and Marquinhos to keep him company on the bus home following another afternoon wasted on the Parc des Princes sidelines.
And, in Lionel Messi, the 28-year-old has once again joined forces with a man he conquered Europe alongside in 2015, when Barcelona’s ‘mes que un club’ mantra still meant something.
But given Rafinha has played just two minutes of Ligue 1 football this season – Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t seem to share Thomas Tuchel’s admiration for a man who has fallen down the pecking order in the French capital – this looks set to be a season of frustration for PSG’s £9 million misfit.
Let’s hope the PSG bench is as comfortable as those padded leather armchairs would suggest.
Will Rafinha regret staying at PSG rather than joining Aston Villa?
According to Corriere dello Sport in July, Aston Villa thought about offering Rafinha a fresh start in the transfer window before reinvesting their Jack Grealish windfall in Leon Bailey and Danny Ings instead.
Rafinha, a one-time Inter loanee, was also understood to be holding out for a move to AC Milan. The Rossoneri are operating on a buy-low, sell-high transfer policy these days but do make the odd exception – Olivier Giroud to name but one.
But it was to be another veteran Brazilian, Junior Messias, scorer of nine Serie A goals for relegated Crotone last season, who would get the nod instead, joining on loan last week with an option-to-buy clause worth £4 million.
And while PSG go all out for the golden goose that is Ol’ Big Ears itself – putting all their eggs in the Champions League basket – Rafinha will be nowhere to be seen as Messi, Neymar and co go head to head with RB Leipzig and Manchester City in the group stages.
Alongside Spain international Juan Bernat and goalkeeper Sergio Rico, Rafinha is the most high-profile omission from Pochettino’s 25-man Champions League squad.
If PSG do conquer the continent, a place in history will feel a little hollow to Rafinha.