Leeds United will face increasing pressure this week over the sale of Raphinha, with Arsenal intensifying their interest in the Brazilian star. The Gunners are set to enter direct negotiations with the club in a bid to pip Barcelona, Tottenham and Chelsea to the winger and are reportedly ready to pay Leeds’ asking price – although that amount varies from ?45-60million.
Raphinha’s departure this summer is becoming increasingly likely, despite Barcelona going quiet. The Catalan club were the preferred destination and the former Rennes man had personal terms agreed, while his agent – former Barca midfielder Deco – was blocking offers from elsewhere as they awaited an offer. But their hesitance to meet Leeds’ valuation has opened the door for top Premier League sides to flash some cash of their own.
Those in charge at Elland Road will have been aware for some time that their attacking talisman – signed for a bargain ?17million from Rennes – would move on to the European stage at some point, and Victor Orta will no doubt have a list of potential replacements. Multiple wide forwards / wingers have already been linked with a move to Elland Road and those rumours are set to intensify as the sale of Raphinha looks more likely.
And with those links set to become more common, LeedsLive has picked out three of the best options to replace Raphinha.
The Whites have been linked with a move for Gonzalo Plata for some time, and his Sporting Lisbon links have inevitably led to comparisons with Raphinha. The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Real Valladolid where scored six goals and registered five assists in 30 LaLiga2 appearances.
The Ecuadorian international operates in a very similar fashion to Raphinha, squaring up full-backs before using his pace to glide past them. He can also drop into deeper wide spaces before progressing the ball forward or switching play to the opposite side – something we saw a lot from Raphinha last season.
Valued at around ?8.5million, Plata could prove a snip compared to the ?40-50million potentially coming in, but that of course comes with its own risk. How easily the winger would make the step up to the Premier League remains to be seen, but it would definitely be worth a look at such a price.
Club Brugge winger Noa Lang has been a target at Elland Road for some time now, and there’s good reason for that. The Dutchman racked up seven goals and 12 assists in 31 Belgian Pro League games last season and was hugely impressive in the Belgian side’s Champions League games against Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
The 23-year-old has an arrogance about him that top players need and, more importantly, has the quality to back it up. A fast and skillful dribbler with an impeccable first touch, Lang likes to pick up possession to feet and run at opposition defenders. While he is typically a left-winger, the former Ajax man can operate just as comfortably on the right or more centrally.
Leeds face stiff competition for Lang’s signature, with AC Milan and West Ham keen on the winger. But if an opportunity arises to steal a march on their rivals then the Bruge man would be a top addition at around ?25million.
While not yet linked with a move to Elland Road, Leeds would be shrewd to go back to Rennes for Jeremy Doku – the man signed by the French club to replace Raphinha in 2020. The Belgian winger struggled with a litany of injuries last season, leading to just 14 appearances in Ligue 1, but links to Liverpool last summer show just how promising a talent Doku is.
The 20-year-old can operate on either wing and has pace to burn. He is a direct and at times quite raw dribbler, bursting out of tight spaces and committing defenders. And while final product may leave a little to be desired, there is plenty of room for improvement at such a young age.
The player is contracted at Rennes until 2025 and would likely command a higher fee than Lang, but if Leeds lose out on the Dutchman to a European club then Doku would be a worthy back up option.