- Raphinha opened the scoring against Betis
- Was lauded for his contribution by Xavi
- Barca boss addresses exit talk
WHAT HAPPENED? The Brazilian broke the deadlock in the 65th minute to help Barcelona clinch a 2-1 away win over Real Betis on Wednesday, which saw them open up an eight-point lead at the top of the Liga standings. Xavi was immensely pleased with Raphinha's performance and heaped praise on the forward, who is gradually finding his feet in his new surroundings after making a move to Spain from Leeds United in the summer. The 26-year-old is reportedly on the radar of United and Arsenal amid talk of a potential move away from Camp Nou at the end of the season, but he remains under contract until 2027 and Xavi insists he will be staying put.
WHAT THEY SAID: "(Raphinha) has been good, not only for his goal, but also with his defensive work. He’s a criticised player, but he does a lot and we value him a lot," the Barca boss told reporters.
Xavi added when pressed on speculation over Raphinha's future: "We will always support Raphinha — he’s the future of Barcelona."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Barcelona have reached 50 points at the halfway stage in La Liga, conceding just seven goals in the process. Xavi hailed his troops for churning out a hard-fought victory at a raucous Benito Villamarin and claimed that they put in an improved display from their victory over Girona on Saturday. "I’m very happy with the game," he said. "We have improved a lot compared to the game against Girona. We played a brilliant game. Today it was key not to lose the ball and we minimised just that. We dominated from start to finish."
IN THREE PHOTOS:GettyGettyGetty Images
WHAT NEXT FOR RAPHINHA? The forward will hope to continue with his good form when Barcelona host Sevilla at Camp Nou on Sunday in another league encounter.