Raphinha injury relief for Leeds as Brazilian media goes crazy over latest super-show

Raphinha celebrates a goal during Brazil x Paraguay during World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte

Leeds winger Raphinha wowed his country’s media once again after producing a stunning display in Brazil’s 4-0 win over Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte.

The Leeds star has enjoyed a superb season so far for club and country. In 20 appearances for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, Raphinha has eight goals and two assists, underlining his huge ability.

United are, understandably, looking to tie down their star man to a new deal. As such, talks over a contract extension – that would make him the best paid player in their history – are already underway.

Indeed, the vultures are already beginning to circle for Raphinha. Liverpool have long been linked, though their interest looks to have waned after the signing of Luis Diaz. West Ham are also interested, having seen a £50m offer fail just before the deadline.

Bayern Munich are also on his trail too.

And the star is doing little to put his suitors off after yet another super-show for la Selecao.

Making his seventh appearance for his country, Raphinha scored a stunning opener for Tite’s side. He then saw another goal ruled out by VAR for handball, hit the post and generally dazzled with his sublime dribbling skills.

Raphinha did limp out of the action after 82 minutes, with Everton Ribeiro replacing him. However, reports in Brazil indicate the winger was suffering with cramp and the substitution was only precautionary.

Plaudits keep on coming

After the match, it was little wonder to see his nation’s media waxing lyrical about his display.

Indeed, Globoesporte rated him as eight out of 10, adding: ‘He had a lot of action in the first half, he scored in a goal that ended up being disallowed and then he scored a beautiful goall, getting rid of his marker.

‘He also missed a goal when he got the ball wrong in a cross by Vini Jr. He struck the post and had a good second half too before leaving the field in the 35th minute of the second half.’

UAI, meanwhile, described Raphinha as Brazil’s best attacker in the early stages.

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Their report said: ‘Raphinha, by the way, was the most dangerous player in Brazil in the initial stage. After missing a goal under the posts, the sprinter dribbled past Junior Alonso, ex-Atlético, and hit hard and low, to beat Antony Silva and make it 1-0.’

ESPN Brazil also reckon Raphinha is a shoo-in for a place in Tite’s squad for the 2022 World Cup.

They wrote: ‘He would have opened the scoring in the second minute, but the referee disallowed the move with VAR after the striker handled the ball. Raphinha missed a goal inside the box, shooting over, but he didn’t waste his third chance.

‘The Leeds United player has been consolidating himself as one of Tite’s surprises and is increasingly guaranteed at the World Cup.’

In seven games for his country, Raphinha now has three goals, two assists and has also won a penalty. Six goal involvements in seven games at international level!

Antony enjoying playing alonside Raphinha

Raphinha wasn’t the only Premier League player among the goals though with Philippe Coutinho also scoring a belter.

The Barcelona man is back in England with Aston Villa and his latest goal for his country will also have done him some good.

The two players meet in Leeds’ next Premier League at Villa Park on Wednesday 9 February.

Another goalscorer, Antony, meanwhile, insists it is not important who gets the goals in an attack-minded Brazilian side.

“That’s the intention,” he said.

“Raphinha, Vini Jr, Rodrygo, it doesn’t matter who [is playing well], but it’s putting this flea behind the ear, because it’s a healthy dispute, it’s everyone working, conquering space, always respecting the teammate next door.

“I’m happy to see Rodrygo scoring, Raphinha scoring, and me too. Now it’s time to get on with the work.”

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