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Rafinha given the all-clear by Barcelona doctors

20:27 SAST 2019/06/18
rafinha-cropped
The midfielder will be available to Ernesto Valverde next season after finally recovering from a long-term knee injury

Barcelona's medical team have given midfielder Rafinha the all-clear after he completed his recovery from a knee injury that kept him out for almost seven months.

The Brazilian playmaker ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in November 2018 and he had surgery to address the problem.

A statement on Barcelona's official website confirmed the 26-year-old has been given the green light to return to full training, but it remains to be seen whether he can force his way back into the first team at Camp Nou.

Rafinha's Barcelona career was stuttering when he sustained the injury and he made just five La Liga appearances for the club in the first four months of the 2018-19 season, having spent the previous campaign on loan at Inter.

Born in Sao Paulo, Rafinha came up through Barcelona's youth ranks before enjoying a strong season on loan at Celta de Vigo in 2013-14 that led to him breaking into the Barca first team the following year.

His future at the club could hinge on whether under-pressure coach Ernesto Valverde keeps his job.

Rafinha's father, former Brazil international Mazinho, expressed his frustration with the limited first-team opportunities afforded to his son before the injury struck, saying he would be seeking a transfer if nothing changed.

The younger brother of Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago, Rafinha plays a little further forward than his sibling and is also comfortable on either wing but has spent most of his career in the middle of the park.

He has made a total of 87 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona since his debut in 2011, scoring 12 goals and registering eight assists.

In his absence, the Blaugrana won La Liga again but were beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League despite boasting a 3-0 lead from the first leg at Camp Nou and suffered a shock defeat to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.