Premier League • England

Raphinha: David Ornstein claims Chelsea are set to win transfer race with giant fee agreed and Arsenal blown away

Raphinha, Leeds United's Brazilian winger, celebrates his penalty in the 2-1 win over Brentford

Chelsea are reportedly on the verge of agreeing a huge fee with Leeds United over a deal to bring Raphinha to Stamford Bridge.

The Brazil winger has found himself the subject of intense speculation all year long, and more so since the season finished. Raphinha scored 11 times for Leeds in 2021/22, laying on three more assists and it’s a certainty they would have gone down without his efforts.

However, with just two years left on his deal, Leeds know that this summer represents their best chance to sell. The player has made no secret of his desire to sign for Barcelona, with his agent Deco pulling the strings and doing his best to try and negotiate a deal.

Leeds, though, refused to be railroaded into selling to Barcelona for less than the player’s worth. Furthermore, Barcelona are now seemingly out of the running. Indeed, their priorities lie with the contract renewal of Ousmane Dembele and the blockbuster signing of Robert Lewandowski.

Their unwillingness to get into a war with Leeds over the player has allowed others to step into the race. That appeared to be led by Arsenal amid claims a meeting with Leeds was to be held over the player later this week.

Their initial approach was knocked back, but the Gunners remained hopeful over a potential deal. As per Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal saw an increased offer for the player rejected by Leeds earlier on Tuesday.

And now, as per The Athletic’s David Ornstein, it is Chelsea who have now moved to the front of the queue. They are reportedly close to agreeing a fee with Leeds described as ‘north of £55m’.

Romano actually claims the Chelsea offer is worth a minimum £60m to Leeds. Add-ons will take the deal closer to £65m. The reporter now claims Raphinha’s agent Deco will now meet with officials at Chelsea to discuss personal terms.

Chelsea at the front of the queue

Ornstein claims that fee is likely to be accepted by Leeds, who will now move on to signing a replacement. To that end, reports in the Netherlands claim they are stepping up their hunt for Cody Gakpo.

The news may yet prompt Arsenal to match Chelsea’s offer. In which case, it would come down to the player’s personal preference.

As it stands, though, Arsenal are not yet at Chelsea’s level over a fee for Raphinha. And it remains debatable if they will try and make a counter-approach of their own.

However, Raphinha was described as being lukewarm about the interest from Arsenal. Without the offering of Champions League football, they were not thought to be in his top two choices.

Chelsea are also reportedly chasing Raheem Sterling. However, it’s not yet known if their interest in the Manchester City man will be impacted by the latest developments.

Arsenal hopes for Raphinha now look over

The Gunners, for us, never looked like genuine contenders to bring in Raphinha.

The Brazilian has made it clear that he only wants to sign for a club playing at the top level. And while the Gunners narrowly missed out on securing Champions League football, that appears to have done their chances.

Quite simply, Barcelona were always top of the 25-year-old’s list. However, Chelsea were always noted as being a close second, given their success under Thomas Tuchel and ability to offer the Champions League.

Raphinha race is still on with Chelsea amongst the favourites

Leeds United still in talks with Barcelona for Raphinha deal but Chelsea lead the race amongst Premier League clubs

The Blues look likely to offload Hakim Ziyech to partially fund the move.

However, it seems to be a deal that is progressing rapidly. As it stands, Raphinha is on course to become the first signing of the Todd Boehly era at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea, meanwhile, also have renewed optimism they can strike a deal for Matthijs De Ligt amid claims Juventus’ stance is softening.