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Raphinha becomes the lucky 13th signing of the summer
Tuesday, 6th Oct 2020 22:37 by Tim Whelan

Leeds completed a very impressive international transfer window with the signing of Rennes winger Raphinha, subject to international clearance. Could there be yet more players to come before the month is out?

Yesterday we signed Brazilian winger Raphinha (real name Raphael Dias Belloli) from Ligue 1 side Rennes for a fee in the region of £17m, subject to international clearance. International clearance is just the process of verifying that he doesn’t have any suspension to complete in the country he’s come from, so presumably that will be just a formality.

It seemed to be taking a while to compete the transfer as the clock ticked down towards the deadline, prompting slight worries of another Cuisance-style late collapse, but finally we got the deal over the line, medical and all. So why were we so determined to sign him when we’ve got plenty of wide players in the squad already?

He is a left-footed winger who operates predominantly on the right hand side, which must involve a lot of cutting inside to shoot with his favoured foot. According to the Yorkshire Post he has been signed to provide competition for Helda Costa, even though Costa has been in fine form so far this season, and it was only in the last few months that we paid £15m to convert his loan from Wolves into a permanent transfer.

To see why we signed him you could look at this compilation of clips on YouTube , or this one , if you can stand the irritating music in the background on both of them. He’s clearly a great talent, so we can only hope he produces this form on a regular basis.

Raphinha started his career in his native Brazil with Avaí, before moving to Portuguese club Vitória de Guimarães at the age of 19. There he made 84 appearances and scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists in his two seasons, before moving on to one of the country’s top clubs in the shape of Sporting Lisbon.

He was in the Sporting side who won both the Taça de Portugal and Taça da Liga in 2018/19, the equivalent of the FA Cup and League Cup, and that was enough to prompt Rennes to sign last summer for a reported £18m. In his one full season in France he played 30 times and scored seven goals, as they finished third and qualified for the Champions League.

He scored in his sixth and last appearance for Rennes this season, when Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Reims was enough to leave them top of the table. So many Rennes fans are very angry at his departure, with their lofty position leading some on social media to suggest that coming to Leeds will be a step down!

One of them laughably said “Goodbye and good luck in the Championship next year”. Does he think Raphinha has gone to Fulham? And another said “The is occurring against the will of the player, who was in tears on Sunday & wanted to stay for another 12 months - the Rennes dressing room were so outraged that key players complained to the president.”

In direct contrast to that, the 23 year-old gave LUTV what are hopefully his true feelings about coming to Yorkshire. “I’m really happy to be here and I hope to, even in a small part, write my name in the club’s history. I believe like any other player, you immediately want to come and play in the Premier League, the best league in the world. Before I came here I’d spoken to other players about Marcelo Bielsa and they told me he is a really demanding coach, which is something I like. “

“I like working with demanding coaches who can really get the best out of me, so it is an absolute pleasure to be here and getting to work with him. I watched Leeds play against Liverpool and Manchester City and I was enchanted with the style of play. It’s a really good team with very high quality and it had a big influence on my decision.”

Meanwhile Jean-Kevin Augustin is moving in the opposite direction, and has gone to French club Nantes on a two-year deal as a free agent. I thought that another striker was more of a priority than another winger, but that won’t be Augustin, who broke down twice with injuries as he tried to achieve Bielsa’s exacting standards of fitness.

He was another who said all the right things when he joined and I thought he could have done a job for us if his dodgy hamstring hadn’t held him back. We still face a lawsuit from RB Leipzig over the £18 million we allegedly owe, but there are no hard feelings from the man himself. Augustin tweeted “Just a quick message to thank all the @LUFC fans that have been supporting me since day 1. I wish the club to do well and keep on shining in PL”.

We may yet make another signing in the next couple of weeks, as we can still do deals with EFL clubs until 16 October, and Bielsa may want another attacking midfield player in the wake of the collapse of the Cuisance transfer. We have reportedly been in talks with Norwich over Todd Cantwell, and another target that has been mentioned is Brentford’s Said Benrahma, though in his case that’s more down to speculation than any concrete evidence that we’ve even made contact with his club.

Even without any further additions, Leeds have been the fourth highest Premier League spenders in the transfer window, and I’m sure we can now trust Bielsa to knit them all into a well-drilled side. Exciting times lie ahead!

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finnes added 05:25 - Oct 20
“I’m really happy to be here and I hope to"!

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