Leeds United are standing their ground over a possible transfer for Raphinha amid claims the club are refusing to buckle over a prospective move to Barcelona.
The Brazil winger finds himself a man in serious demand this summer after an excellent season for Leeds. He scored 11 times and weighed in with three assists as the Whites, just about, managed to avoid a return to the Championship.
And while they have retained their Premier League status, keeping hold of their star attacker looks a tricky task.
Indeed, he is being strongly linked with a move to Barcelona. They have made no secret of their wish to sign him, with Raphinha too also seemingly having his heart set on the move.
And the prospect of Raphinha moving to the Nou Camp brought a surprising response from Diego Llorente when he was questioned by the Spanish media this week.
However, any prospect Barcelona have of signing the winger on the cheap look unlikely.
He was two years left on his deal at Elland Road, meaning the club are under no pressure to sell him this summer. Furthermore, confirmation that their place in the Premier League is secure, means Leeds do not have to consider a cut-price departure.
To that end, The Athletic’s Phil Hay claims Leeds are sticking to their £60m – £70m valuation for Raphinha.
He also claims that financial issues at Barcelona means that negotiating such a deal will be far from easy. As such, the saga is likely to drag on long towards the end of the summer window, with Barcelona likely needing to move players on before they can finance his signing.
And while they could yet offer Leeds a cash-plus-player bid, United are determined not to be taken for fools over his transfer.
Barcelona finances remain in a massive mess
As a result, Raphinha is likely to be back in pre-season training with Leeds long before Barcelona can – if at all – finance his signing.
“Raphinha has two years left on his deal and Leeds will be conscious of the fact that, if he stays, his value will be considerably lower in 12 months than it is now,” Hay writes. “But sources have indicated to The Athletic that it is likely to take a bid of between £60million and £70million to get Raphinha out of Elland Road. That is potentially four times what they paid for him less than two years ago.”
On Barca’s finances, Hay, alongside LaLiga expert Dermot Corrigan, suggests a swap deal could present Barcelona’s best chance.
“Barcelona might try to dangle surplus players in part-exchange, a way of cheapening any deal for them. But LaLiga’s salary-cap rules would make that process complicated. That’s because a set percentage of money received would have to be spent servicing their debt.
“Also, Leeds have pre-existing plans for the coming window and might not be interested in a cash-plus-player proposal.”
As it stands, Barcelona are also still unable to register summer signings Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie.
With the club exceeding their salary cap, Barca need some of their unwanted stars to depart before others come in.
However, with rival sides aware of Barca’s situation, the club are expect to field a number of low-ball offers for some of their unwanted players.
Barcelona themselves will be aware what their players are worth. However, they may need to make the painful decision to allow players to leave for less than their worth.
Leeds right to stand ground over Raphinha
Barcelona clearly want Raphinha and Raphinha, it seems, is very clear in his wish to join them. But Leeds are right to stand their ground and ensure the star leaves on their terms only.
That stance served Tottenham well with Harry Kane last summer when Manchester City came calling.
With a World Cup just months away, the demand for Raphinha’s services is only likely to increase.
Brazil legend Ronaldinho wants Raphinha at Barcelona
Ronaldinho wants Leeds United winger Raphinha to join Barcelona this summer
That said, his deal will will be heading towards its final year if they don’t sell now. To that end, his valuation come next summer will likely dip as he approaches his final year.
The danger posed to Leeds United in the meantime is if another big-name suitor comes calling for Raphinha. To that end, Bayern Munich are reportedly keeping a close eye on the situation. The Germans, however, are yet to make a firm approach.
As it stands, the future of Raphinha does not look like reaching a conclusion any time soon. Quite simply, Barcelona need to sell before they can buy. As a result, the saga will likely push well into the closing weeks of the summer window.