The Raphinha transfer saga is finally reaching its end as the Brazilian winger is set to join Barcelona over Chelsea and Arsenal, according to multiple reports. CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs confirms that Barcelona reached a verbal agreement with Leeds on Sunday on a deal worth around €75 million. Personal terms had been agreed since January.
While the agreement was reached on Sunday, the paperwork is set to be completed on Monday, with the player flying to Barcelona for a medical this week, Jacobs reports. Chelsea’s deal was also accepted by Leeds United but Raphinha’s heart was set on joining Barcelona as he and his agent Deco, a former Barcelona star, waited for the Spanish club to make their best offer.
While Barcelona’s financial issues are well known as they’ve struggled to register new talents Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, that certainly isn’t stopping them from competing for top players’ signatures. Barcelona’s original offer of €60 million guaranteed was lower than Chelsea’s initial offer, but the new deal meets Leeds United’s valuation for their player. The deal is expected to be broken down into installments, but the full structure is unknown at the moment.
Jacobs also reports that Barcelona are set to re-sign Ousmane Dembele after the winger found his footing under Xavi. Dembele will take a 40 percent pay cut while signing a two-year deal with the club. That pay cut will help with Barcelona’s financial troubles but more will likely be needed as they continue to chase Cesar Azpilicueta.
For Leeds United, despite losing two of their stars this summer in Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips, they’ve done excellently to receive over €100 million to build out Jesse Marsch’s squad. During his time in Yorkshire, Raphinha registered 17 goals and 12 assists in 67 appearances in all competitions. Already adding Americans Brenden Aaronson, and Tyler Adams, they’ve also signed Luis Sinisterra, Rasmus Christensen, Marc Roca, and Darko Gaybi. For Barcelona, this is a move that doesn’t close the gap fully with Real Madrid, but certainly puts them back in the La Liga title race.
What does the deal mean for Leeds United?
Luckily, Leeds have had plenty of time to prepare for losing their star before heading on their preseason tour in Australia. Raphinha’s replacement has already been sorted in the form of Sinisterra, but there will certainly be more pressure on the former Feyenoord man. With 19 goals and 11 assists in all competitions last season, Sinisterra can be electric on his day, giving Leeds an unpredictable presence. Combining with Jack Harrison in attack, he can certainly produce some exciting moments, but the transition from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is not an easy one.
He’ll be given all the chances that Marsch can adjust, but in a pinch, Aaronson can slot in as a winger as well. Both players will likely share set play responsibilities, but the hope is that a healthy Patrick Bamford will make everyone’s job easier in attack as Raphinha certainly had more work to do than he should have last season.
Xavi is getting his feelings guys
In Barcelona, it’s clear that president Joan Laporta trusts Xavi’s judgment. Laporta wasn’t a fan of Dembele, hoping to sell him this summer, but Xavi was able to ensure that someone he trusted was kept. Dembele was effective in limited minutes last season, leading the team in assists with 13 in only 15 starts, and he should get quite a few more playing with Raphinha.
It speaks volumes to the pull of the shirt that Raphinha and Deco waited on Barcelona despite the economic uncertainty compared to Chelsea’s. Even with a bid accepted and the chance to agree to personal terms to stay in the Premier League on the table, Barcelona still won out.
How will Barcelona line up?
Playing in a 4-3-3, things will be a little fluid for Barcelona this coming season. They essentially have four starting options for three spots, but one is easy to fill. With Adama Traore being sent back to Wolves after only starting four matches and registering two assists, Raphinha’s favored right wing will be wide open. His direct style will suit the Barcelona way as no matter where he gets the ball, he’ll be able to drive to the goal and pick out other attackers.
Keeping Dembele gives Xavi the option to rotate Pierre Emerick-Abumayang and Ferran Torres through the middle with Torres and Dembele also splitting time on the left side of the front three. Memphis Depay could also factor in if he stays at Barcelona, but it seems more likely that he moves. With Champions League commitments, Gavi Paez and Ansu Fati will be in for more minutes if they can stay healthy with other young talents also factoring in. Depth wise, the team is slowly getting closer to Real Madrid, especially if they can keep Frenkie de Jong to make their midfield tick, while they continue to pursue Robert Lewandowski.