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Raphinha to Arsenal transfer rumor

Are the Gunners in for another Brazilian winger?

West Ham United v Leeds United: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Another day, another Arsenal transfer rumor. The Gunners have been recently linked with a move for Raphinha. The Leeds United winger reportedly wants a move away from Elland Road this summer, and the club is open to selling if someone meets their valuation. The Brazilian has done well in the Premier League, scoring 17 goals in 65 appearances.

Raphinha wants a move to Barcelona, but the Spanish giants are unlikely to be able to afford him (or anybody, really). They’ve racked up over £1B in debt and have to be circumspect in the transfer market. Enter Arsenal and Tottenham. Both North London clubs are said to be interested in moving for the winger, but my sense is that both clubs see him as a secondary option.

Spurs are said to want Richarlison (who has also been linked with the Gunners). And it’s an open secret that Arsenal’s transfer priorities are Gabriel Jesus and Youri Tielemans. If Mikel Arteta manages those purchases (and I have no reason to believe he will not), I don’t see him signing another attacker unless the club can move Nicolas Pépé out. And even then, I think Arsenal are more interested in Cody Gakpo than Raphinha.

It’s tough to get stats-based read on Raphinha because of Marcelo Bielsa’s unique style of football. His pressing and defensive action numbers are, unsurprisingly, extremely high. His pass-completion is abysmal, but he has loads of progressive passes. He’s in the upper quartile for total shots. But which of those stats are Raphinha and which are the system? Which are repeatable skills and which are a tactical artifact?

He’s a fine player. I think he’d look better playing with better players in a more traditional system, but I don’t think he’s a star waiting to break out. I wouldn’t have a problem with Arsenal moving for him at the right price (say £20-25M), but my feeling is that Leeds are going to want a number that doesn’t make sense for the Gunners (£35-40M+). Raphinha is much more important and valuable to them as a primary scorer / attacking threat than he would be as one of several attacking options at a bigger club.

Arsenal aren’t in a place financially or from a roster-building standpoint where they can spend that kind of money on what would be a luxury player. The Gunners still have bigger, more pressing needs to fill.