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Inter Milan sign Barcelona's Rafinha on loan with option to buy

Rafinha celebrates after scoring a goal for Barcelona against Granada.
Rafinha will spend the rest of the season with Inter Milan.

Barcelona have confirmed that Rafinha has joined Serie A side Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season.

The Italian club will have an option to sign the midfielder for €35 million in the summer, with another €3m potentially due in add-ons if the deal is completed.

Sources had told ESPN FC on Saturday that the option to buy would become compulsory if Inter qualify for next season's Champions League, but that has not been confirmed by either club at this stage.

Luciano Spalletti's Inter are fourth in Serie A, which would see them qualify for Europe's premier competition next season, level with third-placed Lazio on 43 points.

"Barca have reached an agreement with Inter for Rafinha to join the Italian club on loan until June 30, 2018," the Catalan club said in a statement. "Inter have an option to sign the player on a permanent basis for an initial €35m and will assume responsibility for the player's wages."

Rafinha, 24, returned to action after a nine-month injury layoff during Barca's 1-0 Copa del Rey defeat to Espanyol last week.

The Brazilian had been out of action since last April, when he picked up a meniscus problem in a match against Granada which left him needing two operations.

However, with the signings of Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho, plus the emergence of Barca B midfielder Carles Alena, Ernesto Valverde said that he is unable to promise Rafinha minutes.

"Rafa has been injured, we spoke about it and we agreed that he needed to play regularly and here he wasn't going to get that," Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday. "I hope he can find minutes elsewhere."

With that in mind, his father, former Brazil international Mazinho, said Inter represented his son's best chance of breaking back into Tite's Selecao squad for the World Cup this summer.

Injuries have been a constant source of bad luck for Rafinha since he broke into Barca's first team.

He missed the majority of the 2015-16 campaign with a ruptured cruciate ligament and even before injuring his meniscus last season, he'd missed a number of games due to a series of problems. A bruised rib, an Achilles tendon injury and a broken nose were among the reasons he regularly found himself on the treatment table.

In total, the Brazilian has made 79 appearances for Barca, sandwiching an impressive season on loan with Celta Vigo in 2013-14, and has scored 11 goals.

With his departure, Barca temporarily say goodbye to the second Alcantara brother, with Thiago having left for Bayern Munich for €20m in 2013.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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