Leeds United director of football Victor Orta - 'Raphinha and Deco have just one goal'

Victor Orta says Barcelona transfer target Raphinha has just one goal at present - to keep Leeds United in the Premier League.

By Graham Smyth
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 12:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 12:06 pm

The director of football has praised Raphinha's agent Deco for his 'help' and says the Portugal legend is well aware that the winger's priority is to ensure the Whites avoid the drop.

Speaking to Radio Marca, Orta revealed the bold prediction he made when Raphinha first walked through the doors at Elland Road in October 2020 and his belief that Leeds have played a part in making it a likely reality.

A £17m deadline day move from Ligue 1 side Rennes allowed Raphinha to shine in the English top flight and establish himself as a regular in the Brazil squad. He now has seven caps to his name, having failed to break into the Seleção prior to joining Leeds, and has a real chance of appearing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year.

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"He is a player that we found in the last hours of the market, because the club put him up for sale, and in less than two hours our reaction was to put £17million to take him away," said Orta.

"On [October 3] I received a call that Rennes put Raphinha up for sale, at 9 in the morning, he was in the barbershop I remember perfectly and at 11 they had an offer of 15 million that we raised to 17. On [October 4] he plays, scores, takes a private flight and on the [October 5] signs in Leeds. They signed [Jérémy] Doku, the Belgian boy.

"The player walked through the door of Leeds United and I told him: 'You're going to invite me to the World Cup in Qatar, aren't you?', And he looked [at me like I was] stupid, he didn't believe it. And now we have been fulfilling those objectives. Now he knows that Leeds and the coaching staff have been very helpful, [so] he has to stay the same and then come summer, when the time comes, there will be time for everything."

Raphinha's emergence as a top player in the Premier League has inevitably sparked transfer speculation. Liverpool and Bayern Munich have both been heavily linked with big-money moves for the 25-year-old, without ever making an offer, and now Barcelona are keen to make him a summer signing. Joan Laporta, president of the Spanish giants, has called the Leeds man a 'great player' and while personal terms would not be an issue, they're yet to begin negotiations with Orta.

ONE GOAL - Victor Orta says Raphinha's priority is simply to keep Leeds United in the Premier League. Pic: Getty

Leeds' director of football appears thankful that Raphinha's agent and the player himself know that the future can handle itself, after Premier League safety is secured.

"Fortunately, Raphinha's career is managed by a top-level player, Deco," said Orta.

"He knows how to handle that. I've had several conversations with Deco. Deco helps me, there are others who don't, Deco has helped. Deco knows that the goal of the player is one: save himself and stay in the Premier League. Everything that is in the future will come. Raphinha does not have a [buy-out] clause if we stay in the Premier League, by the way. In that sense the player and I have looked each other in the face and, with the help of those around him, we have said now there is only one goal and that is to save Leeds United."