Chelsea enter race for Barcelona starlet Rafinha

Chelsea have joined the list of Premier League club interested in signing Barcelona’s brilliant young starlet Rafinha.

The 20 year old, younger brother of United bound Thiago Alcantara, is entering the final year of contract and has also been linked with loan moves to Everton and Celta Vigo.

The attacking midfielder scored 11 goals for the Barcelona B team and is the latest player from the academy to draw admiring glances from Premier League teams.

Rafinha has yet to make a first team appearance in La Liga but he has featured for the club in the Champions League, starting the 0-0 draw with Benfica last September.

Rafinha is highly rated at the Nou Camp and Barcelona are keen to avoid a repeat of the contract situation that has allowed Manchester United to move in for his highly rated older brother Thiago.

The club are currently looking to tie down the younger Alcantara to a new deal and while they are believed to be open to the idea of a loan move they will not sanction anything until the player signs a new contract.

The two parties are currently in negotiations and should a new deal be agreed then Rafinha could link up with his brother in England.

It’s unlikely that Barcelona will include a clause, based on appearances, similar to the one that has allowed Thiago to speak to United.

Ironically, a Chelsea move for Rafinha, who can also play up front, would benefit Manchester United in their move for Thiago. The Spanish U21 star and his father, former Brazilian star Mazinho, are keen to relocate the family to the North West of England and while Everton would suit given its proximity to Manchester a move to London should not be ruled out at this point.

Celta Vigo, managed by former Barcelona youth team manager Luis Enrique, Bayern Munich and Arsenal are also interested in the player while Manchester United could also be tempted to take Rafinha on loan in a bid to sweeten the deal for Thiago.

Trevor Keane

Trevor Keane is an Irish based sports writer and the author of Gaffers, 50 years of Irish Managers and Running through Walls, the Dave Langan Story.

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