Latest on Raphinha’s involvement for Leeds United game at Southampton 36 hours after Brazil’s Uruguay clash

Leeds United expect Raphinha to feature against Southampton on Saturday October 16, despite kicking off at St Mary’s less than 36 hours after Brazil’s game against Uruguay.

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 4th October 2021, 12:34 pm
Leeds United's Raphinha will link up with Brazil this week (Picture: Simon Hulme)
Leeds United's Raphinha will link up with Brazil this week (Picture: Simon Hulme)

Raphinha has been named in the Brazil squad for their World Cup qualifying fixtures against Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay this month.

The winger, who was once again one of Marcelo Bielsa’s star men at Elland Road at the weekend during the club’s first Premier League win of the season, is yet to make his international debut.

He was called up for the trio of Brazil games that took place in September, but a Premier League pact to stop players from travelling to countries on the UK government’s Covid-19 red list prevented him from joining up with Tite’s squad.

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Leeds United in action against Watford on Saturday (Picture: Simon Hulme)

The government has since agreed a compromise with FIFA that will allow fully vaccinated players returning from red list countries and their national team bubbles to play and train with their clubs, albeit while quarantining at ‘bespoke’ facilities.

Arrivals from red list countries, even those who have had both jabs, normally have to quarantine in a government-chosen hotel for 10 days.

Raphinha will instead quarantine at either a club facility or a hotel chosen by Leeds, while being allowed out for games or training sessions.

A government spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with football authorities to achieve an outcome that balances the interests of both club and country while maintaining the highest levels of public health and safety.

Raphinha, Leeds United's No 10, could make his Brazil debut over the coming days (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“Our best defence against the virus is vaccination and these new measures will allow fully vaccinated players to fulfil their international duties in the safest, most practical way possible, while allowing them to train and play with their clubs as early as possible upon their return.”

Despite the solution, which was criticised by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, Raphinha’s involvement in Leeds’ next outing appeared in doubt due to the short gap between Brazil’s Arena da Amazônia clash with Uruguay in Manaus at 1.30am on Friday October 15 and Leeds’ trip to St Mary’s, which kicks off the following day at 3pm.

But the YEP understands the Whites expect Raphinha to be present and available for selection, which will come as good news for Bielsa.

His 24-year-old winger has quickly become a firm fan favourite at Elland Road and came in for praise from Bielsa after the 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

The head coach believes the player Leeds signed for just £17m from Rennes a year ago is a rare find, because he marries a huge amount of ability with a willingness to run himself into the ground.

“He’s a player that stands out and due to standing out he doesn’t demand privileges, the opposite, he takes on even more obligations,” said Bielsa.

“That’s why he’s a player valued so much by all of us. Due to his humility and his capacity of effort, that is not common when you accompany it with so much talent.”

His first season in the Premier League brought six goals and nine assists and he has already scored three times in seven league games in the current campaign.

Earlier this year he spoke of his desire to wear the famous yellow shirt of his nation.

“As a Brazilian, like any other Brazilian player, I dream of representing the Selecao, I dream of putting the shirt on and representing my country,” he said.

“If the chance to play [for] the Selecao does come along, I would embrace that opportunity and make the most of it. But if it doesn’t, the focus would still be Leeds and the results.

“If it does come about, it would be that dream come true, [like] for any Brazilian player.”