Brazilian star Raphinha will become an FC Barcelona player in the coming hours. Leeds United accepted a $67 million bid (including bonuses) for its star player and expects the move to become official soon.
Raphinha trained at Thorp Arch on Tuesday but is expected to travel to Barcelona on Wednesday for his medical and official announcement at the Catalan club. The 25-year-old enjoyed an impressive two seasons at Leeds, scoring 17 goals and assisting another 12 in 65 matches. He moved to Elland Road from French side Rennes in 2020 in return of around $22 million. Previously, he played for Sporting Lisbon, Vitoria Guimaraes (both from the Portuguese top-flight), and Avai in his native country.
Barca fans are going to love Raphinha ✨
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 13, 2022
Before cutting a deal with Barcelona, Leeds had an agreement in place with Chelsea to sell the Brazilian. But the player’s wish was to wait for an improved offer from the Catalan giants and Leeds didn’t pressure him into accepting a move to London. In June, Arsenal also expressed interest in signing Raphinha.
Raphinha had two more years to go in his Leeds United contract. At Barcelona, he’s expected to sign until 2027. Raphinha is Barcelona’s third summer signing after Franck Kessie (AC Milan) and Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) came at cost zero. Barca’s priority is now signing Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich. Ousmane Dembele is also close to agreeing a new contract at Camp Nou after his previous deal expired on 30 June.
Can Barcelona challenge Real for La Liga’s crown?
Real Madrid won the previous La Liga edition with a comfortable 13-point advantage over Barcelona. Xavi’s revolution at Camp Nou is supposed to raise Blaugrana’s chances of giving Real a proper fight next season. The bookies see Real as the favorite to win the league, but Barcelona is right behind in the odds race. As it stands now, Real is at +120 to triumph again in 2023, with Barcelona at +150. Atletico, the champion of 2021, is at +400, while Sevilla (at +2000), Villarreal (at +5000), and Real Sociedad (at +6000) are regarded as unlikely challengers.
Barcelona kicks off its La Liga campaign on 13 August, when Rayo Vallecano comes visiting. Real Madrid plays a day later, on 14 August, against newly-promoted Almeria.