Rafinha's season ending injury could directly affect Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona's plans for January. Two players in particular could now see a door open: Carles Aleña and Denis Suarez.
In the case of Aleña, it was already planned that from January he would take on a first team number, but now his role could be even greater. His profile is similar to Rafinha's, who was ahead of him in Valverde's rotation system.
Aleña is also left footed and is an attack minded player. He is not ad versatile as Rafinha, who can also play wide, but he offers a lot of solutions for Valverde.
The yound midfielder has played twice for the first team this season: against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey and in La Liga against Real Betis.
Thanks to a number of games with Barça B, he's recaptured his form and rhythm after being injured at the end of last season.
As for Denis, his future was away from Barça before the injury to Rafinha. The club were ready to let him go but will now think again. He is a creative player and could take on a similar role to Rafinha.
The midfielder has played just once this season, in the Copa, when he was captain. He's only been in the squad for four other games.
Denis' reputation around Europe remains high, though, with interest from England and Italy. Valverde will have to decide if he now wants to keep him around until the summer, at least.
Source: Sport / Jordi Gil