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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.

Chelsea looking to Bayern Munich for right back insurance

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Antonio Conte may be turning to Bayern Munich to strengthen his defense.

Bild has a report that Chelsea is interested in Bayern reserve Rafinha, who is in the last year of his contract with the Allianz Arena set.

The 31-year-old Brazilian has been with Bayern since 2011, where he arrived after one season at Genoa. Before that, Rafinha spent five seasons with Schalke.

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His appearance numbers have dipped with Bayern since 2013-14, but Rafinha has averaged about 30 matches per year for the club.

Rafinha would give Conte affordable cover at right back, where Victor Moses is first choice and Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta can operate outside of a three-CB set.

Barcelona loses Rafinha for rest of the season

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Liverpool isn’t the only team dealing with a season-ending injury to a key piece.

Barcelona has lost midfielder Rafinha for four months after he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus.

Rafinha has played 28 times this year, scoring seven goals for the Blaugranas.

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The 24-year-old Brazilian has been beset with injuries this season, including time off from problems with his ribs, thigh, nose, achilles and now knee.

Barca still has the Champions League quarterfinals against Juventus, this season’s away El Clasico, and a Copa del Rey final this season.

Bayern Munich’s Rafinha turns down Brazil call-up

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Bayern Munich right-back Rafinha has turned down a call-up to the Brazilian national team ahead of two upcoming World Cup qualifiers in October.

Brazil manager Dunga looked to bring the 30-year-old into his side which is thin defensively, as both Dani Alves and Danilo are out with injuries.

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However, Rafinha would still be behind Fabinho in Dunga’s pecking order, which led the Bayern Munich defender to opt out of the side.

The Brazilian federation released a statement saying they respected Rafinha’s decision, which all but ended his chances of being included in the national team moving forward.

We respect the player’s decision, commend his transparency and we are canceling the call-up of Rafinha.

The CBF believes that only players who are fully committed to the national team and our philosophy of work can be part of the group that represents Brazil around the world.

Despite enjoying a successful career in the Bundesliga with Schalke and Bayern, as well as a short stint in Italy with Genoa, Rafinha has only made two appearances for the Brazilian national side. His first cap came back in 2008, and then he had to wait six years before featuring against South Africa in 2014.

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However, both of those appearances were in non-competitive friendly matches, which according to FIFA rules, would make Rafinha eligible to represent another country. After living in Germany for ten years, it is believed he is looking to gain German citizenship and will try to earn a spot under Joachim Low for the defending world champions.

After long-time German captain and right-back Phillip Lahm retired from international play after winning the World Cup in 2014, he gave great praise to his Bayern teammate Rafinha. Lahm said he would recommend to Low that Rafinha take his place in the national side, which now looks like a real possibility.

USMNT 1-4 Brazil: Neymar and Co. throttle answer-less Yanks at Foxboro


Is debacle too strong a word for a friendly?

Brazil took the United States’ barely-functioning midfield and awful-looking defense apart, dispiriting an already-frustrated USMNT on Tuesday in New England.

That’s the basic gist of the USMNT’s 4-1 loss to Brazil at Gillette Stadium in the last U.S. game before the pivotal Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico next month.

Neymar had a pair of goals as a second-half sub, and Rafinha and Hulk also scored for Brazil against a U.S. back line of Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Ventura Alvarado and Geoff Cameron.

Danny Williams had a laser-strike in stoppage time to give the States something. Jonathan Spector had the assist.

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John Brooks was kept from the Starting XI with injury, while Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley didn’t make the trip. Clint Dempsey was also absent for the States.

Brazil improved to a 14-1-1 since the 2014 World Cup.

Hulk found Brazil’s opener before the clock struck nine, as Brad Guzan was beaten by a chipped Willian cross that hit the post. The rebound fell between a mess of U.S. defenders, but Zenit’s big striker found the ball, took a touch, and hammered it past Guzan.

Altidore had a half-chance snuffed out when DeAndre Yedlin created an opportunity down the right side with his speed.

Really, the first 20 minutes was about Brazil possessing the heck out of the ball, and Willian was its danger man when needed.

U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan, below, stops an attempt on goal by Brazil's Douglas Costa during the first half of an international friendly soccer match Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Marquinhos came in for Miranda after just 22 minutes due to a bloody mouth.

Yedlin earned another chance for the States when his speed sucked in a trio of Brazil defenders, and the former Seattle Sounders man cut the ball back to Michael Bradley, whose off-balance shot through traffic was saved.

Jurgen Klinsmann explained the Bedoya for Williams sub, saying the States needed to be more compact and that Bedoya hadn’t settled into the game.

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At halftime, the States brought on Bobby Wood. Brazil brought on Neymar.

The latter move would pay dividends, as David Luiz played a stunning diagonal ball over the U.S. defense, finding Neymar. The Barcelona star cut back on Geoff Cameron, and went down on contact. An easy-enough penalty call, and Neymar converted. 2-0 in the 51st.

The U.S. had a chance moments after Roberto Firmino flashed a header over Guzan’s goal, as Tim Ream dribbled deep into the Brazil half before playing a square ball for Bradley. Alas, the captain’s bounding shot was scooped up by Marcelo Grohe.

Brazil would strike again in the 64th minute with Rafinha scoring a classy, clever goal. After a blazing counter from the visitors, Rafinha somehow wrapped his foot around Tim Ream to poke a loping shot over Guzan. 3-0.

And Neymar added Brazil’s fourth with a sly dribble through the 18.

Mix Diskerud and Jonathan Spector got a chance to put in 20 minutes each for Jermaine Jones and Geoff Cameron, the former of whom angrily stormed past Klinsmann.

When the States finally got a point-blank chance in the 84th minute, Diskerud’s hard shot went straight to Grohe.

Then Williams broke through when Spector found the Reading midfielder in acres of space. His bullet didn’t miss but was no more than a stoppage-time consolation.