Luke Ayling has described Leeds United teammate Raphinha as a “serious player” – but has made a joke about his physique is incredibly deceptive.
Raphinha, 24, joined the Whites in October last year for an undisclosed fee reported to be in the region of £17 million. The Brazilian has made a positive contribution, with 29 Premier League appearances. He has chipped in with six goals and weighed in with eight assists on an excellent debut campaign.
That sort of form has resulted in a number of clubs reportedly expressing an admiration for the former Rennes star. The likes of Manchester United, Man City and Liverpool have all been linked with moves.
Indeed, his former Sporting Lisbon teammate, Bruno Fernandes, cannot stop talking about the player, according to one Red Devils star.
Now Ayling has also given a glowing verdict of the Brazilian star, despite appearing to make a joke about his physique.
Speaking to UMM YouTube channel, Ayling claims getting the ball off him in training is near impossible.
“I’ve tried loads of times [to get the ball off Raphinha]. You think you’ve got it, then it just goes through your legs,” Ayling said.
“You look at him and there’s nothing to him. His calves are like my forearm, there is nothing to them. His upper body is nothing. He rolls into you and worms away from you. Serious player.”
Raphinha told to work on ‘robustness’
Danny Mills also reckons Raphinha can take his game to an even higher level next season if he works on building up his body.
While he admits to being impressed by the winger, he wants him to work on his robustness over the summer.
“He’s had his first season in the Premier League now it’s about building that robustness to play at that level week in, week out,” he told Football Insider. “The experience of this season will stand him in good stead for next year.”
Raphinha recently missed a few games due to injury while his goal production has dipped. And Mills feels that he will better be able to cope with the physicality of playing for the Argentinian next term.
“We’ve talked about it many times, Bielsa almost works his teams to death at times,” he added. “They are incredibly fit but it does mean, from time to time, new players who aren’t as used to it are going to break down and are going to pick up little injuries.
“After a season you’d expect those little bumps in the road to be ironed out. He can have a real good tilt at it next season.”