Barcelona legend Ronaldinho has urged his former club to sign Leeds United winger Raphinha this summer, hailing the Brazilian’s quality.
Raphinha joined Leeds in the 2020 summer transfer window from Rennes, having impressed during his year in Ligue 1. In 28 league matches for Rennes (spanning 2,102 minutes), Raphinha scored six goals and recorded five assists, being directly involved in 0.47 goals per 90 minutes from the wing.
And he has only grown from there. In his first season with Leeds, Raphinha was directly involved in 15 goals in the Premier League, scoring six and providing a further nine assists. His 64 chances created was the 10th-best return in the Premier League in 2020/21 and five more than any other Leeds player.
This season, Raphinha has seen his impact switch and he is now more of a goalscorer, netting nine times in the Premier League so far with three assists.
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But Raphinha is about more than just the numbers, he is an excellent winger who, on his day, is pretty tough for even the best defenders stop. And it’s these performances that have seen Raphinha linked with a move away from Leeds.
Barcelona is perhaps the most likely destination, given Raphinha’s agent is former Blaugrana midfielder Deco, and the Brazilian is 11/8 with Sky Bet to sign for the Catalan club in the summer transfer window.
The links go further than Deco too. Raphinha has previously revealed he holds a close relationship with Ronaldinho, who was a childhood friend of his father and grew up idolising the Brazilian legend.
“Since I was little he was my greatest idol because of the way he played,” Raphinha said of Ronaldinho in an interview with Sky Sports last year.
“The joy and spontaneity he played with on the pitch and the happiness that emanated from him – I always admired him for that.
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“My dad was a childhood friend of his so we ended up being close. Because of the person he is, I’ve always been inspired by him both as a person and a player.”
And Ronaldinho has now returned the favour, insisting Raphinha would be a good addition to the Barcelona squad this summer.
“I would very much like him to come,” Ronaldinho told Sport.
“He has a lot of quality, he would fit in very well with Spanish football due to his playing characteristics.”
For some, Raphinha would be a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona, with the Frenchman’s future currently in doubt despite his recent return to form.
But even if Dembele does stay, Barcelona may still go in for Raphinha and will hope he could have a similar jump in performance as Adama Traore has since joining from Wolves.
After just one goal and no assists in 20 Premier League appearances for Wolves this season, Traore has already recorded two assists in six La Liga matches for Barcelona.
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