Raphinha has opened up on leaving Leeds United and why he could never say no to Barcelona, and gave insight into what it was like playing for Marcelo Bielsa.
Where Raphinha would wind up was one of the hottest transfer sagas during the middle of the summer window. After two sparkling seasons at Elland Road, interest in the Brazil international was always likely to emerge.
Arsenal and Chelsea both bid for the 25-year-old. The Blues usurped their London rivals when placing a bid Fabrizio Romano claimed was worth an initial £60m.
Leeds accepted, but the player only had one club in mind: Barcelona.
The love affair between South American players and both Barcelona and Real Madrid is nothing new. When Barca mobilised in the market, Raphinha’s agent, Deco, did all he could to make his client’s dream come true.
Ultimately, Leeds sold to Barcelona for a fee that was lower than the one bid by Chelsea.
Regardless, Leeds received a handy sum and quickly reinvested the money received from both Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips.
In signing the likes of Rasmus Kristensen, Tyler Adams, Marc Roca and Luis Sinisterra, Jesse Marsch’s squad now feels more complete and balanced.
Via Brazilian outlet UOL, Raphinha has now lifted the lid on both his Leeds exit and his time playing for Marcelo Bielsa.
Raphinha had nothing but good things to say about the Whites and his former boss. However, he also explained why a switch to Barcelona was the only outcome possible when Xavi came calling.
Raphinha on Bielsa, Premier League experience
“I was very happy wearing the Leeds shirt,” said Raphinha. “I worked with Bielsa, a very demanding guy who welcomed me with open arms. in fact, I enjoy working with demanding people.
“With him, we knew there was time to play, yes, but only during training breaks, because in the field the bug catches.
“The Premier League is a league of quality players, but even so, I managed to do what I love most: dribbling.
“In training I’m more restrained, I don’t dribble my teammates. I try to do the basics, focus more on the tactical and save everything for the game, which is when it actually tastes better.
“The markers were difficult, but with my magic I managed to do a few things on the field.”
Barcelona move what Raphinha “always wanted”
On why Leeds never stood a chance of retaining him amid such strong ties to Barcelona, Raphinha added: “When people ask me if I imagined leaving Leeds for the biggest club in the world, which is Barcelona, and joining the Brazilian national team within a year, I answer that I not only imagined it, but also managed to achieve it.
“With a lot of effort and dedication I achieved what I always wanted.
“I had a lot of offers after my time at Leeds, but I knew exactly what I wanted. My childhood idols played for Barcelona. so I had the dream of coming here and I spared no effort to achieve it.
“I already talked about my family’s relationship with Ronaldinho and he is one of my idols who wore this shirt.
“I didn’t get to talk to him before I came here. But I’m sure he would tell me to follow my dream.”