FC Schalke 04 right-back Rafinha will sign a two-year contract extension with the Bundesliga leaders.
The 21-year-old Brazilian's previous deal was due to expire in 2009, but the two parties have now agreed an extension keeping Rafinha at the Arena Aufschalke until summer 2011. "I am delighted that Rafinha sees his future with us and that he will stay for at least another four years," said Schalke general manager Andreas Müller. "He will be an important player for our team for years to come."
Rafinha, who has missed only three Bundesliga games this season as the Gelsenkirchen outfit have established a three-point lead in the standings, moved to Germany from Coritiba FC in summer 2005 and has since made 52 league appearances, scoring twice. "There's always an element of risk in signing such a young player from Brazil, but it was the right decision and he has surpassed all expectations," added Müller. Coach Mirko Slomka was also pleased to secure the defender's services, saying: "For our tactical system, the right and left-backs are particularly crucial. Rafinha is one of our most important players and brings a lot of spirit to our team."