Raphinha's presentation as a new Barcelona player was slightly odd. He awkwardly rolled a ball back and forth to Joan Laporta, before reluctantly posing for a picture with the club president. He was then handed a kit without a number, a byproduct of the Blaugrana's uncertainty over player registration during the summer of 2022. The team that had spent €65m on him and were showing him off to the world couldn't even guarantee that he would play in the coming months.
Of course, Raphinha broke out all of the standard platitudes, anyway. He described playing for Barca as a "dream come true". He noted that some of his idols had played for the club. He pledged to do whatever it took to help his team win.
Now, 10 months later, that same player has an official number and 34 league appearances to his name. He has won La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup. He has become a regular for the Brazilian national team.
But he might also be the first player to leave Barcelona in a summer of transition. The Blaugrana have lofty ambitions in the transfer market, namely in their goal to sign a certain Argentinian World Cup winner. However, they can't spend until they sell.
Raphinha, and his expected handsome transfer return, might be the key to unlocking a big summer, making him the ideal martyr that will allow his dream club to solve a litany of financial problems, and bring about the long-coveted return of Lionel Messi.