Barcelona are close to finalising a deal for Leeds winger Raphinha.
Leeds have confirmed the player is now heading out to Barcelona after agreeing a deal in principle with the Spanish giants. He is set to undergo a medical before completing the deal on an initial £49m fee, which could rise to £55m with add-ons.
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch admitted defeat in the battle to keep Raphinha by saying it is the Brazilian’s dream to move to the Camp Nou.
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“There’s been distinct movement with Barcelona and we think that things will move along in the next day or two, but it’s certainly not finished yet,” said Marsch while on Leeds’ tour of Australia.
“As much as it’s really hard to lose Raphinha I’ll say this. If you think about a young man that was pretty much guaranteed to go on a reduced transfer fee to Barcelona if we were relegated, and then you watch the performances he had to make sure the club was going to stay up, it would be hard for any 25-year-old to do that.
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“I’m hopeful for him to get this deal done because I know it’s his dream to play for Barcelona.”
Raphinha did not travel with the rest of the squad on the tour Down Under. Chelsea were previously believed to be the front-runners for the Brazilian international, but Barcelona appear to have moved ahead of them with an 11th-hour bid.
It would represent good business for Leeds following his 17 goals in the Premier League over two seasons.
It’s a move that suits him and Leeds were aware this could happen this summer. The club have planned for Raphinha’s departure.
Raphinha was Leeds' standout performer
So far this summer Leeds have signed Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Darko Gyabi, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca and Luis Sinisterra from Feyenoord for an undisclosed fee.
Marsch is now assessing their defensive options but may look to strengthen in that position before the start of the new season.
Leeds are also in the market for a striker and are expected to push that plan forward once Raphinha has completed his move to Barcelona.
Defender Junior Firpo will be out for up to eight weeks after picking up a knock during the pre-season game against Blackpool.
How Raphinha became one of the Premier League’s most coveted players
Sky Sports football journalist Nick Wright:
“The stunning strike against West Brom, lifted into the top corner from outside the box. The first-time rocket against Everton which took the roof off Elland Road. The penalty, won and converted under pressure, which helped secure survival against Brentford.
“Raphinha gave Leeds supporters plenty of moments to savour. His 65 Premier League appearances brought a total of 17 goals, many of them spectacular, and a lot more besides. The bewitching skill, the feints and nutmegs, will live just as long in the memory.
“The 25-year-old was not widely known to English audiences when he arrived from Rennes in 2020 but he certainly is now, his explosive performances for Leeds, and subsequently Brazil, marking him out as one of the Premier League’s most coveted players.”
Life after Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips: What are Leeds doing?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Tim Thornton examines what’s next for Leeds with key players Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips exiting the club this summer…
We expect Leeds to move quickly and bring new players to the club: another midfielder, a winger and a striker to play alongside Patrick Bamford as Jesse Marsch likes to play two up front.
Leeds paid £16m for Raphinha and will look to do the same by buying players early and developing them. That’s the strategy. They won’t spend £60m to £70m on a player. They have identified targets, they know who they want and they will move quickly to bring them in.
If Leeds can get three more in then they can argue it’s been a good window – even though they have lost two massive players.
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Raphinha has been Leeds' standout performer
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11pm on September 1?
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.
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