Premier League • England

Raphinha: Edu comes clean on Arsenal interest and bats off popular misconception over Barcelona transfer

Raphinha official transfer presentation as a new FC Barcelona player at Camp Nou Stadium

Arsenal technical director Edu has spoken openly and honestly about the Gunners’ failed pursuit to sign Raphinha this summer.

The Gunners have invested over £100m on their squad this summer for the second successive year, raising hopes of another solid campaign. They narrowly missed out on a top-four spot, with costly defeats at Newcastle and at home to Brighton seeing Tottenham pip them to that coveted place.

But having brought in Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira, among others, confidence is high they can go one better this time around. Indeed, optimism has risen in wake of their comprehensive 4-0 win over Chelsea in pre-season.

Indeed, their spending could have risen by another £50m had their approach for Raphinha proven successful.

With the Brazilian appearing certain to leave Leeds, the Whites were willing to cash in on their star man for the right price.

Barcelona’s interest was well documented and the LaLiga giants were very much the player’s first choice. However, with finances tight, they were struggling to agree a deal with Leeds.

That allowed other suitors to join the hunt, of which Arsenal were the first to show their hand.

Ultimately, though, a lack of Champions League football put paid to their hopes. However, Arsenal had the capital to outmanoeuvre Barcelona and they remained in the hunt until it was no longer possible to do.

Edu reveals all on Raphinha conversations

Now Edu has come clean on their pursuit. And he insists they did not push too hard to sign the nine-cap Brazil star once his wishes came to light.

“People think we went in too deep about Raphinha because Raphinha was everywhere,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s fair we did have some conversations with Deco because Deco is his agent, and I have a good relationship [with him] – we are friends.

“I just said to Deco, ‘Can you explain to me the situation with Raphinha?’ and he was clear. ‘Edu, we have a good relationship, but I’m not going to lie to you. His idea is to go to Barcelona because he’s dreaming of going to Barcelona. And we’ve been talking to Barcelona since a long time ago.’

“Okay, thank you very much. If something happens, then just let me know because I can explore and understand the situation. If not, no problem, and we carry on with our relationship.”

Arsenal were never serious contenders

As such, it seems unlikely that Arsenal ever actually launched an official bid to lure him from Leeds.

Ultimately, it was of course Chelsea who came closest to pinching him from Barcelona, though they too ended up disappointed.

Since then, the Gunners have been linked with three other wingers. To that end, both Moussa Diaby and Leroy Sane have both been strongly linked.

However, it is PSV’s Cody Gakpo whom the Gunners look most likely to move for.

Gakpo is the reigning Eredivisie Player of the Year, having scored 21 times and weighing in with 15 assists last season.

Arsenal have bid rejected for Raphinha by Leeds

Arsenal have had a bid rejected for Raphinha by Leeds United who want £65m for the winger

Arteta is keen to add more goals to his side from the wide positions and that is certainly something Gakpo will help with.

His signing, though, depends on Arsenal’s ability to offload club-record signing Nicolas Pepe.

After an indifferent three years at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal will seemingly sell if the price is right.

Pepe, however, has other ideas and has set out his stall in the face of growing transfer rumours.