A report has explained why Barcelona rejected the chance to sign new Manchester United ace Antony and instead go after Leeds’ Raphinha.
Chelsea agreed a deal with Leeds for Raphinha on June 28. According to The Telegraph, it would have seen the Blues pay £55million for the Brazil winger.
However, he told Leeds chiefs he had no intention of going to Stamford Bridge. Raphinha wanted to pursue his dream of playing for Barcelona, and he knew the Spanish outfit were after him.
As such, Leeds accepted a £55m bid from Barca for him on July 13. It was less favourable than Chelsea’s offer, as more of the money was to be made up through instalments and bonuses.
But Leeds knew they had to negotiate with Barca as Raphinha simply would not join Chelsea.
The 25-year-old soon signed. He made his Barca debut in the La Liga opener against Rayo Vallecano, which ended in a goalless draw.
Barca’s next four league matches have all ended in victory though, putting them second in the table behind Real Madrid. And Raphinha opened his account for the season with a goal in the 3-0 away victory over Sevilla.
Raphinha will be hoping to rediscover the form which saw him become a hero among Leeds fans at Elland Road. At one point last season, he was almost single-handedly dragging them away from the relegation zone.
Antony to Barcelona explained
Things could have been far different for Raphinha if Xavi’s side had pursued one of his Brazil team-mates.
According to Spanish newspaper Sport, Barca were originally plotting a move for Antony to improve their winger ranks.
Jordi Cruyff, who is an adviser to the club, watched Antony several times as he excelled with Ajax last season.
But after plenty of in-house discussions, Barca went after Raphinha instead. And Sport claims this is because of three main factors.
The first is that Raphinha is apparently more of a ‘complete player’ than his Man Utd counterpart.
Raphinha is three years older than Antony and also has experience playing in the Premier League through his time at Leeds.
In contrast, Antony had never played in a top-five European division before his Manchester United debut.
Barca chiefs also thought Raphinha would fit into the team dynamics better than Antony. Both stars tend to play on the right wing, but clearly Xavi thought there was a tactical advantage to having Raphinha over Antony.
The third and final reason for the transfer decision is Raphinha’s work rate. While he doesn’t always track back, when he does it is with full passion.
Antony, in contrast, can be found lacking in the defensive area of his game. Of course, Erik ten Hag will look to rectify this over the next season or two.
Barca knew what they needed in their winger and these factors took them to Raphinha rather than Antony.
The latter has made two appearances for United so far. He got a goal on his debut as the Red Devils beat Arsenal 3-1 at home.
However, Antony had less impact when United lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad in the Champions League on September 8.
Meanwhile, Barcelona have been backed to complete a shock raid on Real Madrid, though United could save Carlo Ancelotti’s side some embarrassment and land the player first.