Leeds United are reported to have turned down an opening £46m bid from Barcelona for the Raphinha transfer following their Premier League safety.
The Whites went into the final match of the season in the bottom three and needing to better Burnley’s result to survive. However, a 2-1 win at Brentford, coupled with the Clarets’ 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle, means Leeds achieved survival. And with another season of Premier League football to celebrate, Leeds know they need to strengthen their squad.
Jesse Marsch and Co, however, will likely face plenty of interest in their own star men. To that end, Aston Villa are reportedly ready to ramp up their efforts to prise Kalvin Phillips to Villa Park.
However, the toughest task Leeds will likely face is in keeping Brazilian superstar Raphinha.
The winger has enjoyed an excellent season, scoring 11 goals and weighing in with three assists. He was also on the scoresheet on the final day, winning and converting the decisive penalty as Leeds won at Brentford.
He though is very much a man in demand with Barcelona making no secret of their wish to sign him. Indeed, Raphinha has reportedly already agreed personal terms with Barca after making clear his wish to join them.
It also emerged earlier this month that Barcelona had lodged an opening bid for the 25-year-old. As per UOL, their opening offer was worth £46.47m, with bonuses taking the deal to £55.27m.
That sale would comfortably represent a club-record sale for Leeds, easily topping the £30m received in 2002 for Rio Ferdinand.
Leeds hold all the aces over Raphinha transfer
Leeds, though, refused to respond to the approach until their fate was known. Indeed, the club did not want any distractions putting them off from their task in hand: survival.
Now that safety has been achieved, however, the Daily Express reports that Leeds have responded to the offer by rejecting it.
Leeds, however, do expect Barcelona to return with an increased offer for the star.
And they report that Leeds will hold out for a fee nearer to the £63m mark. Raphinha has two years left on his deal and while they hope to offer him an extension, it seems his heart is set on leaving.
That said, Barcelona will need to come back and meet Leeds’ valuation if a bid is to be received.
As such, Leeds have every right to hold tight and only sell on their terms. Relegation would have significantly weakened their hand. But the onus now is very much on Barcelona to find a way to tempt Leeds to sell.
Meanwhile, chairman Andrea Radrizzani has made a promise to Leeds in the wake of survival and the Raphinha transfer bid.
He admits the 2021/22 season has not been good enough and has vowed that the hard work is already underway for next season.
In a statement on the club’s official site, he stated: “We are naturally delighted to see the 2021/22 season come to a conclusion with Leeds United remaining in the Premier League.
“This has been a painful season for everyone, from the board to the fans in the stands, the changing room to the ticket office, it has been a battle.
“The campaign has been blighted by serious injuries to key players and having to make an unplanned managerial change was an incredibly tough decision.
Survival the objective
“Staying in the Premier League was our objective this year and we’ve managed to obtain our top-flight status, but this is not success and improvements are needed.
“As a board we will work hard with Jesse Marsch this summer to improve the squad. We need to find a way to deliver the kind of performances you all deserve.
“We believe that with time and a full pre-season, Jesse will be the man to take this club forward.
“Your support for the team at Elland Road and at the 19 top-flight away grounds you have visited has been unrivalled and we can’t thank you enough.
“The hard work for the 2022/23 season is already underway.”
Leeds, meanwhile, are reportedly back on the trail of Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino.
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