Leeds United have begun contract discussions with star player Raphinha in a bit to ward off Liverpool, according to a report.
Raphinha joined the Whites from Rennes in October 2020 and has gone on to be a huge hit at Elland Road. The right winger bagged six goals and nine assists in his debut season to help Leeds finish ninth in the Premier League.
Raphinha has been just as impressive during 2021-22, hitting eight goals in 18 appearances. That includes strikes in victories over Crystal Palace and Norwich.
Reports put Liverpool in the frame to sign Raphinha, potentially as a long-term replacement for Mo Salah. Chelsea and Bayern Munich are also monitoring his situation.
But Leeds are intent on keeping the five-time Brazil international around. According to the Daily Star, talks have started between Director of Football Victor Orta and Raphinha’s agent Deco.
The renewal negotiations are progressing ‘smoothly’, which suggests an agreement could be struck over the next couple of months.
Raphinha set for pay rise
Raphinha’s current contract doesn’t expire until 2024, but Leeds are already preparing a bumper new deal. It will see his £55,000-a-week wages rise massively, to reward his status in the team.
The update will delight manager Marcelo Bielsa. During last Friday’s press conference, the Argentine spoke about a potential new contract for Raphinha.
“I think it’s a great decision,” Bielsa said. “Raphinha is the best player in the team in all the senses – physically he’s the best, technically he’s at the level of the best and the interpretation he has of the game is very good, very wise.
Leeds ready to try again for Brenden Aaronson
Bielsa's side saw opening bid worth £15m rejected by Salzburg
“[He is] within the group of such a powerful nation of Brazil. He shines in the Premier League and he has the attention of all the big clubs in the world.
“All of those things is something you guys know just as much as me. Nothing that I’m saying is new. As a result the decision of the club can only be valued.”
Leeds to increase Brenden Aaronson offer
Meanwhile, Leeds are reportedly ready to up their offer for Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson.
The west Yorkshire club put £15million on the table earlier this week, only to see the bid pushed back. Salzburg apparently don’t want to sell before their Champions League round of 16 clashes with Bayern in February and March.
But Leeds are pressing ahead regardless, and according to The Athletic they are now willing to part with £20m.
Aaronson himself is conflicted over the potential transfer. He is keen to work under an enigmatic coach such as Bielsa, while the Premier League move would also be a step up in his career.
However, the 21-year-old does not want to leave Salzburg in a precarious position for the second half of the campaign.
That could see Leeds’ second bid get rejected, therefore putting a summer switch into focus.