Pundit claims Raphinha's 'brilliant' Brazil debut is a 'great sign' for Leeds United fans

Pundit Noel Whelan has praised Raphinha following his performance for Brazil against Venezuela.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 2:42 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th October 2021, 2:48 pm
TOPSHOT - Brazil's Gabriel Barbosa (C) celebrates after scoring against Venezuela during the South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the UCV Olympic Stadium in Caracas on October 7, 2021. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ / AFP) (Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Leeds United’s Raphinha made his international debut against Venezuela on Friday and registered two assists as he came off the bench to help his national team come from behind to take the victory in the World Cup qualifier.

Former Leeds United forward Noel Whelan has spoken highly of the Brazilian’s performance and believes it can only have a positive impact on Leeds United.

“The pinnacle of any player’s career is getting an international cap and representing their country,” he told Football Insider.

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LEEDS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Raphinha of Leeds United celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and West Ham United at Elland Road on September 25, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“Going away with the best players in the world and representing Brazil – he doesn’t look out of place, does he?”

Friday’s match saw Raphinha line up with the likes of Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, Barcelona’s Vinicius Junior and Juventus full-back Alex Sandro, but it was the Leeds United winger that played a vital part in Brazil’s comeback.

Whelan said: “It’s a great sign for Leeds United fans, the club, and Brazil that they have this young star who has been able to step in and have such an immediate impact in the national side.

“It’s brilliant, and hopefully it continues.

“It’s all about putting in the performances for him while he’s away, but steering clear of injury.”

Despite a poor start to the Premier League season for the Whites, Raphinha has shone in his first full season with the Yorkshire club, picking up three goals in seven appearances.

The 24-year-old was rewarded for his club form with an international call-up back in September, however Raphinha opted to turn it down in order to continue playing for Leeds United amid a COVID dispute that would have resulted in him missing out on key fixtures with the Yorkshire club.

The former Rennes forward will hope he can pick up where he left off when he returns to Premier League football, however he will be forced to miss out on the Whites’ trip to Southampton next weekend as Brazil face Uruguay the day before.

Raphinha will be a huge miss for Marcelo Bielsa’s side who picked up their first win of the season with a narrow victory over Watford prior to the international break.

The Brazilian’s absence adds to the likes of Patrick Bamford, Robin Koch and Luke Ayling who are all expected to miss the trip down south next Saturday.