The Azzurri, who have insisted in recent years on recruiting Brazilian nationals, came knocking on Raphinha’s door when he was at Leeds United under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa.
The winger, who never played professionally in his home country and has Italian nationality through his father’s side, always dreamed of following in the footsteps of his idol Ronaldinho Gaucho, who is a family friend, both at the club and international level.
That is why he politely declined the offer, convinced that one day he would wear the ‘amarelinha’, as, in the end, it turned out to be.
The gaucho’s persistence, which is one of his best virtues, prevented him from following the same path as his compatriots Rafael Toloi, Emerson Palmieri and Jorginho (one of Barça’s former targets), who won the last European Championship with the transalpine national team.
However, as the Azzurri failed in the playoffs, the trio will not be in Qatar. Raphinha, one of Tite’s ‘sacred cows’, will be an undisputed starter for one of the favourites for the title.
Having the patience to wait for the right opportunities, he ended up being rewarded: playing for Barça, where he is convinced he will triumph, and with Brazil in search of the ‘Hexa’.