Barcelona midfielder Rafinha has thanked Inter for making him ‘feel like a footballer again’ and letting him regain his ‘happiness’.
Rafinha spent the second half of last season on loan at Inter, helping them qualify for the Champions League, although the Nerazzurri failed to clinch a permanent deal for the Brazilian.
“It was a busy summer because I didn’t know what would happen,” he told Mundo Deportivo ahead of the two clubs’ Champions League meeting on Wednesday.
“Things were changing, but I was also at home, with the comfort of being at the best team in the world, Barcelona.
“Hurt by Inter? That’s not the right word. Only a few months had passed, in which I was feeling very good, getting my confidence back after a long injury.
“Through how I was treated by my teammates and the fans, I felt very comfortable. They made me feel like I was at home.
“However, it wasn’t planned for me to leave. There was no obligation for Inter to buy me in their agreement.
“Did I expect them to keep me? I knew they were happy with me at the club and I thought they would, but it didn’t happen.
“The most beautiful aspect of my time at Inter? Regaining my confidence, which was the most important thing for me.
“I felt like a footballer again and I was happy again, doing what I like most. For me, it was a tough but incredible experience.
“Did I expect to do so well? I was surprised. My teammates were excellent. They were a fantastic bunch.
“It was crazy. Inter reminded me of how football is lived in Brazil. Nostalgia? I have those feelings and some beautiful memories, it’s the truth.
“Will Wednesday’s game be strange? Of course. It was a great surprise when I saw the draw, but it was also a motivation for me.
“At the same time, I want to see my former teammates again, as well as the people who welcomed me so well.
“When I found out we’d been drawn with Inter, I was with my friend Xavi, who also spent some time in Italy.
“When the notification arrived on his phone, he told me, ‘look who we’ve been given…’ Imagine my face as soon as I read it was Inter…
“Spalletti? He’s very tactical and attentive, especially to small details. He also has some very good players available and they’re a team who can play very well.
“Icard?i I met him for the first time at the age of 15, when I arrived at Barca’s academy. We studied together and from there, a friendship was born.
“He helped me a lot at the start of my spell in Italy. As a player, he’s crazy.”
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