There are few more formative experiences for a Brazilian footballer than going to Ronaldinho’s birthday party, but this is exactly what 7-year-old Raphinha enjoyed during his childhood in Porto Alegre.
Almost two decades on, he might be following in the footballing legend’s footsteps by signing for Barcelona. Although the deal is almost over the line, Chelsea still has an outside chance of stealing his signature. Particularly as this would mean that he stays in the Premier League.
In a normal World Cup year, the summer would be a ripe time for sports betting. However, with Qatar 2022 taking place in the winter, many people are turning to the transfer market instead.
The Raphinha saga is a common favourite at the bookies, especially as other blockbuster transfers, like Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe, have been settled. While bettors are more familiar with match bets, transfers are gaining popularity as something else to wager on.
The best bookies offer the most generous odds on potential transfers like Raphinha to Chelsea or Barcelona. The same sites also offer a range of potential bets on Premier League fixtures and more.
Stay with us as we explore where Raphinha’s most likely onward destination will be.
Raphinha: Brazilian starlet with a point to prove
Raphinha has enjoyed a fruitful career so far. Despite his success at clubs like Sporting Lisbon, Rennes, and Leeds, the tricksy winger still has a point to prove. Hotly tipped since he was a youngster, Raphinha has enjoyed a close relationship with Ronaldinho since he was seven.
It’s about time the 25-year-old is given a chance to perform in a top-tier team. Something of a late bloomer, he only began his professional football career in earnest after turning 18. Raphinha played in varzea tournaments before this, which are local Brazilian competitions that are known for their intensity, harshness, and basic amenities.
He consequently missed out on academy football before turning professional. Although this may have stunted the winger’s tactical appreciation of the game, it developed other unique traits that many European academy products lack.
Raphinha’s tenacity and natural ability with the ball at his feet are products of his natural footballing environment when growing up. His directness also reflects this, as do the underdeveloped sides to his game, like his finishing accuracy or decision-making.
Nevertheless, the Leeds United player has kicked on in recent years. He was the club’s top scorer, with 11 goals, last season and made the Brazil international squad in October.
With the 2022 World Cup and a big-money transfer fast approaching, he’s perfectly poised to prove his mercurial potential on the biggest stages.
How Raphinha became a Leeds United Legend
After so many years out of the Premier League, the excitement was palpable across Leeds before the 2020-2021 season. Supporters got an added boost too, with the signing of Raphinha from Rennes. He wasn’t well-known in England at the time, but any Brazilian winger signing for a promoted club is enthralling.
Raphinha’s potential was clear from the offset. Nevertheless, his first season at Leeds lacked the numbers for it to be deemed a runaway success. He finished with six goals to his name, but his dribbling and directness quickly made him a darling in the eyes of Leeds supporters and Premier League neutrals.
The 2021-2022 Premier League season was tumultuous for Leeds, with Marcelo Bielsa eventually making way for Jesse Marsch after a disappointing start. Fortunately, Raphinha was still a success story, netting 11 goals that were instrumental in saving Leeds from relegation.
He will always be a club legend because of this, especially as fans had to deal with the absence of talisman Patrick Bamford for a large portion of the season. It looks as though the Brazilian winger will almost certainly be moving on, but we’re sure the club will never forget him.
Why are clubs clambering to sign the exciting winger?
It’s not often that players from Leeds United’s level are linked with iconic sides like Barcelona and Chelsea. Raphinha has broken the mould in this regard, attracting interest from several top-level European sides.
Without watching the Brazilian winger play, you may wonder why, especially as his goal and assist statistics aren’t world-beating. However, these figures are only scratching the surface of what an exciting and valuable player Raphinha really is.
Here are a few reasons why clubs are piling on top of each other in the race to sign him:
- Speed: Raphinha has the golden combination of pace, acceleration, and a low centre of gravity. This means that he can dribble at impressive speeds, while keeping enough control over the ball to keep it from rival defenders. As we saw time and time again at Leeds, this makes all the difference to a game.
- Directness: The Brazilian has a very direct footballing style, which was perfect for Bielsa’s high-octane tactics. His first thought is to run at defenders and create problems, a scary proposition when coupled with his sublime dribbling ability.
- Age: At 25, Raphinha is still young enough to develop considerably and he hasn’t yet hit his prime. Whoever wins the race to sign him will know that they have the opportunity to enjoy the winger’s golden years.
- Versatility: Although Bielsa largely played him as an inverted right winger, Raphinha is comfortable across the forward line. Modern attacking tactics often revolve around flexibility, so this is a particularly desirable trait.
Frontrunners in the race to sign Raphinha
Lots of clubs have declared their interest in Raphinha over the past few months. Only a select few can feasibly complete the deal, with clubs like Chelsea and Barcelona being the favourites. Look below for an overview of the frontrunners in the race to sign the Brazilian:
After reaching a verbal agreement to sign Gabriel Slonina, it was widely reported that a deal to sign Raphinha was also imminent. Things have cooled off slightly since then as Barcelona stepped up with their interest too. Nevertheless, if he moves to a Premier League club, the odds are that it will be Chelsea.
Raphinha has a very close relationship with Ronaldinho, so his desire to play for Barcelona at some point in his career is unsurprising. The club is in a precarious position financially, but if they can afford Leeds’ £63 million asking price, it’s looking like the most likely move.
Arsenal had a decent chance of signing Raphinha at the start of the transfer window. However, when clubs like Chelsea, who can offer Champions League football, stepped into the fray, the Gunners had to take a backseat. There’s still potential, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
What if Chelsea miss out on Raphinha?
Chelsea might miss out on Raphinha, but Rafeal Leao and Serge Gnabry have emerged as alternative targets.
Lukaku’s departure to Inter Milan has left a gap in Tuchel’s forward line. The German prefers versatile attacking targets like Raphinha, so a similar type of player will be on the shopping list. With the new owners eager to spend effectively, reinforcements will certainly be coming in. It’s just a question of who.
See More: Top 5 Players Chelsea Could Sign In 2022: Transfer News Latest