Leeds United Barcelona target Raphinha opens up on World Cup's importance in transfer decision

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Barcelona transfer target Raphinha says he is leaving his future in the hands of his agent and Leeds United but admits his World Cup dream will be a factor.

The winger, speaking at a press conference ahead of Brazil's friendly with Japan on Monday, addressed the possibility of moving away from Elland Road this summer. Barcelona have made no secret of their desire to sign him and given their close relationship with the player's agent Deco, would appear in prime position to do so. But the financial situation facing the Catalan giants could muddy the waters significantly, with widespread reports that they must sell players before they can buy or even register new ones.

Leeds, having secured Premier League status for another season, have no release clauses to worry about and can set what they believe to be a fair price. With Barcelona far from alone in Raphinha's Champions League community admirers, it feels likely that the Whites could slap a £60m price tag on the 25-year-old, due not only to the two years remaining on his contract but the 17 goals and 12 assists he has contributed as he established himself as a Premier League player over the past two seasons. He has also become an international regular while at Leeds, winning all eight of his Brazil caps since the start of last season.

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Becoming a key part of Tite's attack ticked off the first of Raphinha's international dreams but another - the World Cup in Qatar - looms on the horizon. November's tournament, for which he helped Brazil qualify with three goals and two assists, will inevitably play a part in his thinking as he weighs up his future this summer.

He's just not ready to think about it yet, though.

"If I say that it doesn't matter, I would be lying, knowing that there are less than six months left for the Cup, you have to be active in the clubs, that weighs on the decision, but I trust my potential," he said, as reported by Globo."If it's to stay or leave, I'll do my best, look for my space and I'll try to be well for the World Cup."

When asked what the future holds, a grinning Raphinha replied: "The next game, against Japan.

"Then I go on vacation. I have a contract with Leeds until 2024, my future is in the hands of Deco and Leeds, I have my mind on the national team, on the game and also on my vacation, we need a vacation. I have a contract with Leeds and this issue is resolved by my manager, when something is right, he sends [it to] me."

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BIG DECISION - Leeds United winger Raphinha admits that the World Cup will be in his thinking when he decides his future, with Barcelona keen on his services. Pic: GettyBIG DECISION - Leeds United winger Raphinha admits that the World Cup will be in his thinking when he decides his future, with Barcelona keen on his services. Pic: Getty
BIG DECISION - Leeds United winger Raphinha admits that the World Cup will be in his thinking when he decides his future, with Barcelona keen on his services. Pic: Getty

Raphinha played 78 minutes of the midweek friendly win over South Korea, striking the post and getting into numerous good positions without being able to contribute to the 5-1 scoreline. He'll hope to be back in the starting XI on Monday in Tokyo again as he attempts to cement his place in a World Cup year.

His rapid adaptation to international football is something for which he gives credit to his team-mates and the relationships they have built up on and off the pitch.

"No matter how little time we work together, each one knows the other well within their characteristics," he said.

"Ney can understand my style, Vini's style, Paquetá understands Ney's and so on, we understand each other there. Obviously, because we know each other from what we see on TV, in training and what we see in games. As much as it is a short time of work, we managed to contribute with each other.

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"As the [coach] says, the fast legs Vini and I can deliver dribbling, one on one, Neymar and Paquetá contribute with technique, we contribute with speed, dribbles, goals. We've scored a lot of goals, I hope we keep it up.

"I have to thank my teammates and the staff of the national team, who told me from the beginning to make me feel at ease. I try to get along with everyone, I'm fun, happy, like all Brazilians, I like to joke, to play, this helps in the adaptation."

Whatever the future holds at club level for a player who has made himself a fan favourite in Yorkshire, there's a high chance his style of play would win him admirers across the globe if he was to feature in the famous yellow shirt of Brazil in Group G of the World Cup later this year. They will take on Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in order to make it through to the knockout stages and Raphinha believes they are to be regarded as favourites to go all the way.

"In my mind, Brazil is the favorite in all competitions, be it the World Cup, Copa America, Qualifiers, any competition," he said.

"I believe that we are doing a good job, the numbers are there. Obviously, Brazil is also favorite in the World Cup."

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