Barcelona enter race for Liverpool and Man City target Raphinha as Leeds set price tag

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Leeds are winning one fight in their battle for Premier League survival and now they face another in their struggle to hang on to Raphinha.

Barcelona have joined the long list of suitors keen to prise Raphinha away from Elland Road. It is understood Barcelona have made contact with Deco, the agent of the Brazil star, and the Portuguese is a former player at the Nou Camp. West Ham are also keen and claim to have had a £55million offer rejected by Leeds in January. Liverpool, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Newcastle have also shown interest.

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Leeds are well aware of this growing interest in Raphinha because of his performances for them and Brazil and are keen to agree new terms to insure his transfer value. Raphinha’s current deal is due to expire in 2024 and he lags behind Leeds’ best-paid player Rodrigo in the salary takes.

Leeds are mindful of his disparity and want to hand him a pay rise to reflect his status at Elland Road.He has been their stand-out performer during their difficult campaign and he has scored nine goals and made three assists. The South American has 15 goals and 12 assists in total since joining from Rennes in October 2020. Leeds’ director of football Victor Orta began talks with Deco in December and is understood to have held a second round of talks with him since the turn of the year.

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So far there has been no breakthrough in the contract talks and reports in Brazil claim Raphinha has rejected Leeds’ latest offer because of a disagreement over the value of his buy-out clause. Leeds refused to sell Raphinha in January and now the focus shifts to this summer’s transfer window.

Relegation would trigger Raphinha’s departure and he would not want to play in the Championship, while Leeds would also have to cut costs and he is their most-saleable asset along with Kalvin Phillips. But even if they survive, he could still leave this summer and Leeds are fighting hard to keep him by slapping a £60million price tag on his head.

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Barcelona enter race for Liverpool and Man City target Raphinha as Leeds set price tag
© Getty Images Raphinha has starred for Leeds with nine Premier League goals and three assists this season

Barcelona may struggle to pay this amount because of their financial problems, but it will not deter the likes of Newcastle, City and Liverpool. Much will depend on Raphinha’s stance and he is said to be happy and settled at Elland Road.

But he is also ambitious and wants to challenge for silverware and play in the Champions League. Leeds can offer neither of those after a testing season, which has seen them fighting relegation and Marcelo Bielsa depart. Raphinha’s stock could rise further if he has a successful World Cup with Brazil and it seems a question of when, not if, he leaves Leeds.

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch understands Raphinha’s huge value to the team and is keen for him to stay along with the club’s other prized assets Phillips and Patrick Bamford. “I haven’t spend any time with anyone talking about their long-term future, only about living in the moment and what’s important for every day,” Marsch said last week when asked about their futures.

“Those conversations can be had down the road once we can establish a few more things. Those conversations are more for the club, but I can always help and, of course, I would love to keep guys like Kalvin and Patrick Bamford and Raphinha, I would love to keep those guys here as long as possible.”

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