Have Leeds Secured the Services of the Next Ronaldinho?

When reports emerged that Raphinha would be joining Leeds United after a last-minute deal at the end of the transfer window, Rennes fans were absolutely seething. They took to Twitter to express their utter dismay in losing a player who looked like he was going to become a future superstar at the Ligue 1 club. The Brazilian has been a long-term target of United manager Marcelo Bielsa and, in clinching this deal, the Argentine may have a diamond that he can polish into a world-beater.

Raphinha Deal Sealed at Last Minute

Leeds fans who had been following the club’s activity in the transfer market and taking note of all the rumours were shocked when news broke that the West Yorkshire outfit were singing Raphinha from Rennes. There had been absolutely no paper talk about the deal until Victor Orta travelled to the French outfit to cut a deal in the dying stages of the international transfer window. Up to that point, Leeds had been heavily linked with the Udinese playmaker Rodrigo De Paul, but this deal never came to fruition.

Raphinha had been on Bielsa’s transfer shortlist from day one as a player he would like to sign, but the manager, along with the hierarchy at the club, believed that the Brazilian was off-limits with Rennes unwilling to sell. However, apparently, it has always been Raphinha’s dream to compete in the English top-flight and it seems that he may have pushed for the move.

With the addition of Raphinha and the Spanish striker Rodrigo Moreno, along with defensive recruitments in Robin Koch and Diego Llorente, Leeds will be a strong force in the Premier League this season. It’s no surprise, then, that Royal Panda has listed the newly-promoted side as its ninth-favourite club to win the division this term. They can be found at odds of 101.00 there, which could represent a lucrative punt for bettors who want to take a chance.

Raphinha Adds Strength on the Flanks But May Also be Repurposed

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Raphinha will naturally bring competition to Helder Costa and Jack Harrison on the flanks, but with these players performing well so far it may be hard for the new boy to break into the first XI in his favoured position. There is a chance that Bielsa may train his new charge for a positional change, however. The Argentine tactician has been known to frequently move players to get the best out of them. The most notable instance of this was when he transformed Kalvin Phillips from a box-to-box midfielder into one of the standout holding midfielders in the country.

It is worth remembering that when Bielsa came in, Pablo Hernandez was more of a natural wide man. However, the Spaniard has arguably had his best games under El Loco in a more central role where he can act as the primary playmaker. With Raphinha’s skillset and game-changing ability, there is a chance that he could be groomed into this role as the successor to the 35-year-old.

Why Has he Been Compared to Ronaldinho?

Raphinha was born and raised in Porto Alegre in Brazil, which is the same city that legendary footballer Ronaldinho grew up in. Naturally, this has led to speculation that the 23-year-old could follow in the footsteps of one of his greatest ever countrymen.

When the 97-time Brazil international was the same age, however, he was already world-renowned and had just signed for Barcelona. Still, under the tutelage of Bielsa, anything is possible, and Raphinha may yet have the chance to replicate the success of his hero.

It remains to be seen what kind of impact Raphinha will have at Leeds. He showed glimmers of brilliance at Rennes, though, and if he can get fit enough for Bielsa to work his magic then he could become world-class.

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Rahul Roy
I am a computer guy by profession and a sports fanatic by choice.

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