Liverpool midfielder Fabinho has revealed he was ‘expecting’ Leeds United winger Raphinha to join him at Anfield in the summer.
Raphinha, 24, has been one of the standout players in the Premier League since relocating to Elland Road from Rennes last year for £17m, with his performances under Marcelo Bielsa culminating in him making his debut for Brazil this month.
The inside forward was substituted on for Brazil’s World Cup qualifying matches against Venezuela and Colombia this international break, with Tite’s men still unbeaten in the South American table and atop the standings, six points clear of Copa America winners Argentina.
The Porto Alegre-born attacker was called up alongside compatriot Fabinho, who started and played the full 90 minutes in both qualifying games, and the Liverpool anchorman has now revealed Jurgen Klopp was keeping serious tabs on the Leeds man a few months back.
The Selecao face one more qualifier before their international break concludes, with Fabinho and Alisson expected to miss Liverpool’s clash against Watford due to the short turnaround, though Bielsa refused to rule out Raphinha’s involvement against Southampton, despite being just a day later.
Speaking ahead of Brazil’s clash against fourth-placed Uruguay, Fabinho has labelled his international teammate, Raphinha, Leeds’ “best” player, before going on to reveal he “expected” the tricky winger to rock up at Anfield during the summer transfer window.
Fabinho told Globo Esporte: “Raphinha, since he arrived in the Premier League, has been performing and standing out very well at Leeds.
“Even in the summer transfer market, there was some talk that he could go to Liverpool, I even expected that to happen, but he stayed at Leeds.
“Today he is the best player in Leeds. Whenever a team is going to play against them, they know that Raphinha is the player who can cause the most danger.
“After his first call-up, he started very well in both games, he made an impact against Venezuela, he played a part in the three goals. Against Colombia, he came in and played very well.
“The attributes he has are very unique. A left-footed player who can go either way. This is very important for our team. Against Colombia he made the best plays of our team and he can help us a lot.”