Barcelona are rubbing their hands together over Raphinha after just two games, putting on a real show in each of his pre-season appearances so far.
Robert Lewandowski is at the centre of attention, but on the pitch, so far, the spotlight has been on the Brazilian.
In his debut against Inter Miami, Raphinha scored a goal and provided two assists, but the strength of the opposition meant that not everybody was impressed.
There was no reason to be overconfident about having a big night against Major League Soccer’s 11th-ranked team.
But the Clasico is another matter, even in pre-season. Raphinha faced a big rival, he faced one of the most demanding defences around, and he shone against Real Madrid.
Raphinha not only didn’t disappoint, but he showed what he has to offer to those who hadn’t watched him in the Premier League.
His first 45 minutes bordered on excellence, with his movement and his use of the ball. He showed his ability to link up with his teammates, show defensive effort and he was even able to score another goal.
His battle with Dembele
Raphinha landed at Barcelona to fight for a place with Ousmane Dembele on the right-wing.
Given what he has shown, though, the Brazilian has started the race with an advantage. For the moment, he has shown an eye for goal that the Frenchman has struggled to find.
The good thing for the Frenchman is that Xavi is also trying out the Brazilian on the left flank. The problem is that Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati are also fighting for a place there.
It is going to be very difficult for anybody to find regularity on either side of the Catalans’ front three.
Xavi’s plan at Barcelona
What is clear is that Xavi will finally be able to carry out the plan he proposed on the day of his presentation.
“I want to play with wide wingers and I want to have different combinations,” Xavi explained upon his appointment at the Camp Nou.
Less than a year later, he has been granted his wish. Now it is a question of whether he is able to fit the pieces together… and whether the club are able to register them all.