Leeds United have been warned they need to take a tough stance with Raphinha as rumours of a prospective transfer to Arsenal gather pace.
The Brazilian star is the subject of intense speculation this summer after starring for Leeds the last two years. Making a mockery of the £17m fee Leeds paid Rennes, Raphinha has scored 17 goals in 67 appearances for United, also weighing in with 12 assists. And in a side that, this last season at least, battled to avoid relegation, it’s little wonder to see the vultures circling.
Indeed, links to Barcelona have hit Leeds persistently for a number of months now. To that end, the player agreed personal terms with Barcelona five months ago, according to Fabrizio Romano. However, raising the asking price has always been a huge obstacle for Barcelona.
The LaLiga side are plagued by financial problems and are struggling to stay within their FFP limits. So much so, that summer signings Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen are still to be officially registered as their players.
And while a sale of 50% of their merchadising and TV rights should free up a wedge of cash, a move to Barcelona does not look any closer.
Leeds have a minimum £42.9m (€50m) asking price on the winger’s head. And while that appears more than fair in the modern market, it’s not a fee within Barcelona’s reach.
As a result, Leeds’ refusal to budge appears to have opened the door to other suitors. To that end, Tottenham and Manchester United have both been mentioned as potential suitors.
However, in the last few days it is Arsenal’s name that has come to the fore. That speculation reached fever pitch on Monday lunchtime amid claims Arsenal are ‘close to an agreement’ over a deal.
Leeds Utd must act strongly
That said, there remains some question marks over the asking price Leeds will set Arsenal. Selling their star man to Barcelona is one thing, but strengthening a Premier League rival is another question altogether.
As such, Leeds are being urged to take a hard line over Raphinha were Arsenal to make a firm approach.
And former Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan, insists a similar tone must be taken with Kalvin Phillips and Manchester City.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Jordan was very clear on his opinion.
“Given they escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, clearly they need to improve,” Jordan said. “We know they’ve been disadvantaged with some key players being out for much of the season. But so do did other clubs.
“I’d like to hear if we were speaking to Leeds United that these players (Phillips and Raphinha) were not for sale full stop, rather than ‘we’re focusing on incoming transfers’. That’s a way of circumventing the fact at this moment in time we haven’t got transfers but when we do we’ll sell them.
“If Leeds United are going to sell these players to clubs like Man City – who aren’t bigger clubs but bigger in their achievements – then these players are going to want to go there. What you want to achieve is the maximum amount of money.
“‘You want our best players, the players that we have cultivated and developed? You’ve got to pay the top money’, so that Leeds United can kick on, regain their poise and regain their development back to the big club that their stature and size details they could and should be.”
Jordan on Raphinha to Arsenal rumours
Turning his thoughts to Raphinha and his potential move to Arsenal, Jordan is urging Leeds United to raise their asking price. Indeed, he feels the £42.9m currently being quoted is simply not enough.
“Not enough, not enough for Leeds. He’s a good player, an integral part of Leeds. He’s a very very talented footballer from the same genre as Riyad Mahrez.”
He added: “If Leeds are going to be forced into a situation where they sell him because Arsenal are currently doing better, they’ve got to pay top, top money. That’s what Leeds have to do and what Andrea Radrizzani has to achieve.
“For Raphinha, as much as I can get. If they offer me £50million, I want £70million. If they offer me £70million, I want £80million. I’d want them to work as hard as they can and sweat the asset. They must make sure they get nothing from me that was vaguely resembling what they thought was a deal.
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“They don’t want to sell these players, so it’s incumbent on them who buy them to do the hard yards.
“It’s not Leeds’ job to do the hard yards, they can say ‘we don’t want to sell the players. We’re focusing on incomings’, and incomings they need. They don’t just need to keep Phillips and Raphinha, they need to keep Raphinha and Philips in an ideal world and supplement and build and support the manager – who I’m not entirely sure is the right one but he saved them so gets a shout.”
Leeds may try and use profits from any sale to sign a new striker. To that end, a report claims they are now in the mix to sign Chelsea striker Armando Broja, with details emerging of the fee involved.