It was well documented that Raphinha is a prime target for FC Barcelona this summer, but their current financial constraints as a club made it impossible to meet Leeds’ valuation of their star winger. They were probably hopeful that the Frenkie de Jong deal to Manchester United would have been wrapped up, to allow them with the raw funds required to seal the deal, but in football, time can be a key factor in completing signings for clubs conducting business.
Then Arsenal came into the picture, and turned out to be favorites to land Raphinha. Barcelona fans would have been disgusted with the thoughts of losing a player they never had, but Leeds wasted no time in rejecting Arsenal’s initial bid for Raphinha – a figure undisclosed, but it was evident that it was not up to their valuation for the player which was around £65m. Barcelona also had a £47m bid rejected earlier, so the Leeds hierarchy made it clear that their man could only leave if the right offer was submitted.
As a player, Raphinha’s ability and talent is undoubted – goals, assists, creativity, as well as a very good threat from set pieces, and in a club like Arsenal, he would have offered stiff competition to Bukayo Saka, as well as bring a quality addition to Arsenal’s attack. As an experienced player, as well as Premier League-ready, no adaptation period would have been expected from a player like Raphinha and he would have hit the ground running from the go.
Yesterday night, Arsenal hearts were broken when news surfaced that Chelsea had met Leeds’ valuation for Raphinha and are close to agreeing personal terms for the Brazilian winger. It’s not like he preferred Team A to Team B, but he made it clear that he wanted to leave Leeds United following their struggles last season and in all honesty, Chelsea offers a better preposition than Arsenal at the moment – they narrowly missed out on a domestic cup double last season via penalties, and most importantly, they currently offer Champions League football, which Arsenal hasn’t seen for the best part of six seasons. Let’s also not forget that they have a new owner, Todd Boehly, who is keen to impress the fans that have become accustomed to having a sugar daddy.
Arsenal fans have been basking in the euphoria of new signing, Fabio Vieira, as well as Gabriel Jesus whose announcement on the official site is imminent, and adding Raphinha to that mix would have certainly sent the fans to Cloud Nine, but as Arseblog rightly said, you win some, you lose some.
What matters now is how Arsenal reacts to losing a genuine transfer target like Raphinha.
The club recently signed Marquinhos – a talented winger billed for the future, and would be an understudy to Saka. The young Brazilian would be expected to get some game time in the Europa League and other domestic cup competitions, but he doesn’t currently represent the quality gap that an amazing talent like Raphinha would have filled. Then there’s Nicolas Pepe, that remained at the periphery last season and is closer to the exit door than staking a claim for a first team berth.
One would expect the likes of Edu and the scouting teams to earn their stripes with a new attacking acquisition, but we can also look from within and plug the void with our own attacking talent. Either ways, there is still a lot of transfer business to be conducted between now and August, so let’s remain hopeful.
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