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Premier League • England

‘A quality rarely seen’- national captain beaming over efforts of Leeds man

Brazil captain Thiago Silva during the Copa America match against Peru

Leeds United star Raphinha has been hailed for his outstanding efforts for the Brazil national side by the captain of his country, Thiago Silva.

The attacker has raised his game to another level since moving to the Premier League. In 38 appearances for Leeds, he has nine goals and nine assists – with his performances lighting up the Premier League. And it’s that sort of form that has seen his name linked with a number of big-name clubs.

The only surprise is that his international debut for Brazil has taken so long to arrive.

That finally arrived last week when Raphinha stepped off the bench and created two goals to help his nation beat Venezuela.

And he’s added to his growing reputation with another outstanding cameo, again off the bench, as Brazil drew 0-0 in Colombia on Sunday.

Indeed, Raphinha’s mazy run in the game has earned huge acclaim.

And while he couldn’t quite do enough to help Brazil to victory, his efforts have earned the praise of Thiago Silva.

The 100-times capped Chelsea man has been around their national side since 2008. So it’s safe to say he’s seen it all in that time.

But he admits he’s rarely seen two players in Raphinha – and fellow newcomer Antony – have such an impact so soon for la Selecao.

“If we had managed to win, we would be talking more about them,” he told UOL.

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“The boys showed a quality that I have hardly seen in more than 10 years with the Brazilian national team [of newcomers].

“It’s really cool to see Raphinha and Antony showing personality. In terms of rapport, it’s a little lacking, but the individual is at a high level.”

Another promiment Brazil outfit, Globo Esporte, also handed Raphinha the highest rating of all Brazil’s players. He only entered the field in the 61st minute.

His success, however, isn’t all good news for Leeds United. To that end, the timing of Brazil’s final match in their qualifiers, against Uruguay, means he will miss Saturday’s game at Southampton.

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Raphinha feels pride at Brazil call

Now, as his debut looms, the winger has spoken of his enormous pride at finally being able to represent la Selecao.

“It’s a very happy moment in my career, in my life,” he said last week, prior to his debut.

“Not only do I represent Restinga, my family, my friends, but the entire community where I grew up, I lived until I was 16, who always supported me, in one way or another they always tried to help me stay focused on the right path . Don’t shift focus to other things.

“Even though I’m here, the penny hasn’t dropped yet. I talked to my parents earlier. I trained, I met players I was always a fan of, I rooted for them. And now I think it will only sink in after the debut, the first game.

“I believe it is a moment that mixes a lot of feelings, a lot of joy, a lot of happiness. There’s a lot nervousness on the positive side. But soon these butterflies in my stomach will pass.”

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