For the majority of last season, Raphinha was deployed as the second-choice right-winger by Xavi, with Ousmane Dembele chosen as the starter in that position. However, the Frenchman’s injury-prone nature meant the former got ample game time.
The two competed for the starting spot through the season, with Dembele registering five goals and seven assists across 25 games. Raphinha, on the other hand, managed seven goals and seven assists in 36 appearances, while also creating a whopping 17 big chances.
Following the departure of Dembele, though, Raphinha was expected to be the main man on the wing for Xavi’s Barça, but now faces competition from 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, who has taken the footballing world by storm.
After three consecutive starts for the senior team, and two appearances for Spain, though, Yamal is set to be rotated more often now, given the hectic schedule, as per a report by SPORT.
A hectic Champions League schedule
After back-to-back disappointing showings in the Champions League across the two seasons, Barcelona will be hoping a group of Porto, Shakhtar, and Royal Antwerp would see them through to the Round of 16.
The first game of the group stages kick off next week, and Xavi will be rotating his team to give chances to fringe players and to avoid injuries.
Yamal, especially, is not used to playing two games a week, yet and will be holding the bench more often to give way to more physically and mentally developed players.
A brilliant showing for Spain
Yamal came in the 76th minute against Getafe in the opening game of the season after Raphinha picked up a red card. He then played 85 minutes against Cadiz, 76 against Villarreal, and 60 against Osasuna.
Following this, he was selected by Luis de la Fuente for the Spanish international team during the first international break, where he made his debut and scored against Georgia, as well.
The teenager played an hour and created three chances against Cyprus a few days later.