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Leeds and Barca finally reach an agreement for Raphinha deal
Wednesday, 13th Jul 2022 21:23 by Tim Whelan

The long-running saga of the Raphinha transfer seems to be coming to an end at long last, with the formal announcement today that the club are close to finalising the Brazilian star’s move to the Catalan giants.

The first sign that the two clubs were getting close to reaching a deal came when Raphinha was omitted from the squad of players who have left for the pre-season tour of Australia. We presumed that was to make it easier for him to get to the Catalan capital to conclude the business than it would have been if he was on the other side of the world.

And today there has finally been confirmation from the club that things were moving, with a brief statement on the official website. “We can confirm that an agreement in principle has been reached with FC Barcelona for the transfer of Raphinha.. Raphinha, 25, will undergo a medical in Spain ahead of his move.” Not that the second sentence will please the die-hard fans of his new club, who favour Catalan independence.

At the start of the transfer window Leeds rejected Barca’s initial offer of around £30m, and it looked like they were struggling to raise the cash needed to make a revised bid that was closer to Leeds’ valuation. They are said to have debts of around €1 billion and under La Liga rules, they needed to recoup €3 for every €1 spent on salaries for new players.

This attracted the attention of Arsenal, and then Chelsea came in with an offer of £60m. Tottenham also showed interest, and it also seemed possible that Rapha could remain at Leeds, until the next transfer window at least. But his heart was still set on Barcelona, and it looks like the Catalan giants have now been able to pull a few strings to improve their financial situation.

On June 30th they announced a €267 million deal to sell 10 per cent of their La Liga TV rights for the next 25 years to US firm Sixth Street, and they have an option to sell a further 15 per cent, which could be valued at around £300 million. All of which is likely to increase their La Liga salary limit for the coming season.

Although the statement on the official site didn’t mention the all-important size of the transfer fee, the Athletic have given a few more details. They are reporting that of £50 million plus a possible £5 million in add-ons. It’s disappointing that Leeds weren’t able to accept the highest offer on the table, but many fans will be glad he isn’t going to another Premier League club, especially one that we’ve hated since 1970.

The fee still gives us a sizeable profit on the £17m we paid to sign the Brazilian maestro from Rennes two years ago, and we can content ourselves with the thought that the money will all be re-invested in new signings. We already have Feyenoord’s Luis Sinisterra as a direct replacement, and the word is that we need this transfer to go through to fund the purchase of a striker as a back-up for Patrick Bamford.

The Athletic have quoted Jesse Marsch as saying “We are actively hunting a striker and I feel like if we get a striker, that will feel pretty close to full strength and feel good about the group”. They have reported that Club Brugge’s 21-year-old forward Charles De Ketelaere is the likely target.

As Raphinha departs for a bigger stage we can wish him well, and take pride in the way that his spell at Leeds helped him to develop his career and to become the player he is today. Even when he knew he was likely to be on his way, he still played his part in that crucial win at Brentford, and showed genuine delight at our survival. We won’t forget him.


Reuters



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