Last year, after a season without titles following the exit of Lionel Messi, Barcelona took the risky decision of selling off a part of its future earnings in exchange for quick cash it could turn into talented signings.
The group of newcomers who arrived at Camp Nou included two players — Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha — tasked with bringing back the punch to an attack that was lackluster following the departure Messi.
Lewandowski did not disappoint. The former Bayern Munich striker assumed the role of a team leader and has not stopped chewing up opposing defenses in the Spanish league.
Raphinha, however, soon became a second option for Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez, who favoured having Ousmane Dembele as a right winger to accompany Lewandowski.
But a door opened for the Brazil international last week when Dembele injured a muscle in his left thigh just when he was enjoying his best campaign at Barcelona.
Raphinha made the most of his opportunity on Wednesday when he scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win at Real Betis that strengthened Barcelona’s lead in the standings. Lewandowski added a second to take his league-leading tally to 14 goals.
His goal should help Raphinha keep his starting spot when Barcelona hosts a struggling Sevilla on Sunday.
Barcelona leads the league over Real Madrid by eight points before the defending champions play Valencia in a game that was postponed for the Spanish Super Cup. Madrid will then visit Mallorca on Sunday.
Using part of the money it generated from the sale of future television rights and other assets, Barcelona paid Leeds a reported 60 million euros ($65 million) for Raphinha and signed him to a