Barcelona move and Brazil breakthrough only made possible by Bielsa, says Raphinha

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Raphinha has thanked Marcelo Bielsa for setting him on the road to stardom with Barcelona and Brazil after their time working together at Leeds United.

Tricky winger Raphinha's form for Leeds in the 2021-22 campaign in particular earned him his first caps for Brazil and ultimately led to a big-money switch to Barcelona this month.

The 25-year-old contributed to 29 Premier League goals for Leeds – five more than any team-mate – with his goal involvements helping to keep them in the division last season.

Across his 19 months in England's top flight, only Tottenham's Son Heung-min (131) created more chances than Raphinha's tally of 129, highlighting his creativity.

Raphinha thrived in Bielsa's physically demanding system, and also impressed under the Argentine coach's successor Jesse Marsh in the back end of the previous campaign.

Having now cemented his place in the Brazil squad ahead of the World Cup, and hit the ground running with new club Barca, Raphinha remains indebted to Bielsa.

"He is a coach who helped me a lot from the first moment I arrived at Leeds," Raphinha told Mundo Deportivo.

"He always demands more, always demands maximum performance. He helped me get to the national team and helped me get to Barca.

"If it wasn't for his teachings, as a group or individually, I probably wouldn't be here."

Raphinha's goals were crucial in Leeds beating the drop last season
Raphinha's goals were crucial in Leeds beating the drop last season

Raphinha spent only one season at Sporting CP and Rennes before heading to Leeds in October 2020.

Now at a fourth club in as many years, the Porto Alegre native has already made himself a fan favourite with his winning goal in this week's friendly against Real Madrid.

"I hope it'll be the first of many Clasico goals," Raphinha said. "Being a Clasico, it gave me a unique sensation, one that's difficult to explain. It made me very happy."

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