Mikel Arteta hoping to use trump cards in Arsenal’s pursuit of Leeds United’s Raphinha

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Arsenal have taken pole position in the race for Raphinha after making an official bid for the Leeds United winger. The Whites are set to turn down the opening offer which, while the official figure is unknown, is thought to be some way off Leeds’ valuation around ?60million.

The emergence of Arsenal as lead contenders is somewhat surprising. Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the Brazilian, while Chelsea and Tottenham are also interested – all of those can offer something Arsenal cannot: Champions League football. Mikel Arteta’s side missed out on a top-four place last season despite looking favourites to pip Spurs for much of the run-in.

The 25-year-old has alsos cited regular playing time as a significant deciding factor in any summer decisions, with his inclusion in the Brazil squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year a priority.

READ MORE: Leeds United to reject Arsenal offer as official Raphinha bid made by Gunners

“Knowing that there are less than six months left for the World Cup, you have to be active in the clubs,” he said while on international duty in May. “That weighs on the decision, but I am confident in my potential. Whether it is to stay or go, I am going to give my best, find my space and try to be good for the World Cup.”

And with a wealth of wide talent – Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith-Rowe and potentially Gabriel Jesus – that is not guaranteed at the Emirates either, but Arteta does have a trump card in hand in the form of Brazilian connections.

Gunners’ centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes played with Raphinha when the two came through the youth ranks at Brazilian side Avai, and the pair have been caught in conversation after previous Arsenal vs Leeds matches. Meanwhile, 20-year-old winger Martinelli has been involved in the Brazil squad with Raphinha, most recently during the month after the end of the 2021/2022 Premier League season.

Arsenal’s technical director Edu has a host of Brazilian connections and has used them recently to secure teenage star Marquinhos from Sao Paulo. Should Arsenal sign Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus then there will be a strong contingent of Brazilian players already at the Emirates, all of whom are likely to be called upon to try and convince Raphinha that Arsenal is the place to go.

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