'I don’t think it will offend them' - Barcelona chief talks up chance of Leeds United Raphinha deal

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is confident that the Catalan club is Leeds United winger Raphinha's destination of choice.

By Graham Smyth
Sunday, 3rd July 2022, 11:27 am

The Whites have reached an agreement with Chelsea that would see the winger move to Stamford Bridge for around £60m and, crucially, the Blues can pay up front.

Raphinha's agent Deco came to terms with his former club Barcelona on Raphinha's personal demands months ago but Leeds are yet to be convinced that the LaLiga giants can match the offer on the table from Chelsea and deliver the cash in one go.

The money brought in from the winger's sale and Kalvin Phillips' move to Manchester City is what will trigger the next phase of Victor Orta's rebuild, with several deals lined up in order to bring in three more senior players.

Orta plans to replace Raphinha with a winger, Phillips with a central defensive midfielder and add a striker to Jesse Marsch's attacking options.

But with Leeds due on a flight to Australia next weekend, the club's preference is to get the Raphinha deal finalised as soon as possible.

Barcelona have been slow to officially enter the race for the 25-year-old Brazilian international, focusing most of their energy in the early part of the summer on financial mechanisms that can at least temporarily fix their cashflow problems arising from historical debt, but Laporta clearly believes they have a good chance.

“We have spoken with Leeds," he said.

DEPARTING DUO - Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha are both due to leave Leeds United but only the former has a move confirmed, with Barcelona yet to reach agreement with the Whites for the latter. Pic: Tony Johnson

"I don’t think it will offend them [saying this] because we have spoken personally and we are in communication, but there are also other clubs that want Raphinha and have made their offers.

“We know that the player would like to come to Barcelona."

Early last week it looked almost certain that Raphinha was Chelsea-bound but over the course of the last few days it has become more and more apparent that the player is holding out in the hope that Barcelona can come to an agreement with Leeds.

A star man for the Whites over the past two seasons, Raphinha broke into Tite's Brazil squad and his involvement in the World Cup is highly likely.

Leeds believe they are in a strong position thanks to Chelsea's offer and the two years left on the player's contract. If there is no significant movement over the next couple of days, however, their insistence that Raphinha will be heading Down Under for pre-season may bring things to a head with the various interested parties. Barcelona are making moves to generate more cash from the sale of LaLiga television rights but there remains a serious question mark over their ability to finance a move for Raphinha to Leeds’ satisfaction.

Phillips, meanwhile, will officially become a Manchester City player on Monday, with Darko Gyabi’s move from the Etihad to Elland Road also expected to be confirmed.

Leeds anticipate a busy week with new contracts to be finalised for Joe Gelhardt and one or two others, along with outgoing loan moves and a pre-season friendly against Blackpool.