Shock Raphinha return to England mooted, with two Prem sides given chance to sign ex-Leeds Utd ace
Barcelona could call time on the ailing stint of Raphinha, and reports have tentatively named two of England’s biggest clubs who could complete their unfinished business.
The Brazil international was a man in demand last summer. Leeds grew increasingly aware they could retain their talismanic forward no longer with Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona all circling.
The Gunners bid first, though their strategy of coming in low and raising the stakes at a later date did not pan out. The Athletic revealed Chelsea tabled a bid worth around £55m including add-ons that Leeds quickly accepted.
However, Raphinha only had eyes for Barcelona and when Xavi’s side lodged a competitive offer, the rest was history.
The 26-year-old viewed a move to the Camp Nou as a dream, though his first six months in Catalonia have been more of a nightmare.
Raphinha’s first 18 appearances for Barcelona have returned just two goals and four assists. His suspect form has resulted in Ousmane Dembele taking his customary starting berth on the right wing.
Now, a report from Spanish outlet Sport has shed light on what the future holds for Raphinha, including a potential return to the Premier League.
What’s holding Raphinha back?
Firstly, they state the crux of Raphinha’s problems is his inability to make his mark in one-v-ones.
Raphinha was often afforded time and space to work his magic at Leeds. However, at a club the size of Barcelona, the opposition regularly defend with 10 men behind the ball.
The Barca coaching staff are demanding more from Raphinha in one-v-one situations and at present, he’s not delivering.
As a result, the article claims that while there’s still hope he’ll come good, the club will assess whether to cut ties at season’s end.
The progression of academy graduate Ansu Fati could be another factor that forces Raphinha out. If Barcelona get the feeling Fati warrants more game-time than he’s getting, the ex-Leeds ace will become a problem that needs shifting.
On the subject of where Raphinha could go if he is axed, Sport stress there’s a ‘huge market in the Premier’. In other words, there’ll be no shortage of English suitors willing to take a punt on a player who thrived in the Premier League.
Arsenal or Chelsea Raphinha’s next stop?
While Sport name no suitors, both the Sun and Mirror namecheck Arsenal and Chelsea.
Both London clubs lodged official bids to sign Raphinha last summer. Whether their interest remains is unknown at present and may depend on what they do in January.
Arsenal are interested in signing Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk, while Chelsea have already landed Christopher Nkunku for next summer. Raphinha would represent a Premier League-proven addition to either side’s forward line.
Leeds fans may be wondering where they stand. Indeed, Raphinha was a revelation at Elland Road and many among their fanbase would welcome the Brazilian back with open arms.
However, they’ve already spent part of the Raphinha money on Luis Sinisterra. Jesse Marsch also has two bright young wingers coming through in the form of Crysencio Summerville and Wilfried Gnonto.
What’s more, even if Barcelona only ask for what they paid, £50m will still probably prove too much for Leeds.
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