Barcelona midfielder Rafinha to join Inter Milan on loan, says father
Rafinha's father has confirmed the Barcelona midfielder is set to join Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season.
Former Brazil international Mazinho says his son's objective is to play regular football again and to hopefully return to the Brazil squad in time for the World Cup in Russia.
Sources confirmed to ESPN FC that Inter will have an option to sign Rafinha in the summer for €35 million, with another €3m potentially due in add-ons if the deal is completed. However, that option to buy will become compulsory if the Italian side achieve Champions League qualification.
Luciano Spalletti's Inter are third in Serie A, which would see them qualify for Europe's premier competition next season, but Lazio and Roma are just two and three points behind them respectively with a game in hand.
"Rafinha's objective is just to play," Mazinho told Diario Sport. "It's difficult for him to do that at Barcelona. There are a lot of good players [in his position] and it's been similar for five years now.
"He's had bad luck with injuries in these last two years and he just wants to play and feel happy doing what he likes doing at an excellent club like Inter. We hope that these three or four months will help him get back into the Brazil squad for the World Cup. He's going to take advantage of this chance in Italy."
Rafinha, 24, returned to action for Barca in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Espanyol in the Copa del Rey, making his first appearance in nine months. His last competitive outing for the club had been on April 3 last year against Granada, when he picked up a meniscus injury which left him needing two operations.
Injuries have been cruel to Rafinha since he broke into the Barcelona first team. He missed the majority of the 2015-16 campaign with a ruptured cruciate ligament and even before injuring his meniscus last season, he'd missed a number of games due to a series of problems. A bruised rib, an Achilles tendon injury and a broken nose were among the reasons he regularly found himself on the treatment table.
Despite that, he had managed to make himself a regular under Luis Enrique, finding a place on the right side of midfield in a 3-4-3 formation.
However, with the signings of Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho, and the emergence of Barca B midfielder Carles Alena, Ernesto Valverde is happy to let him leave this month.
In total, Rafinha has made 79 appearances for Barca, sandwiching an impressive season on loan with Celta Vigo in 2013-14, and has scored 11 goals.
With his departure, Barca temporarily say goodbye to the second Alcantara brother, with Thiago having left for Bayern Munich for €20m in 2013.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.