Gorgeous shot against West Brom, lifted to the top corner outside the tee. The first anti-Everton rocket to take off from Elland Road. The penalty, won and changed under pressure, which helped ensure Brentford’s survival.
Raphinha gave Leeds fans plenty of moments to enjoy. His 65 games in the English Premier League returned a total of 17 goals, many of them magnificent and many more outside. The magical skills, fingers and nutmeg, will live on for as long in the memory.
The 25-year-old was not widely known to English fans when he arrived from Rennes in 2020, but he certainly is now, his explosive performance for Leeds, and subsequently Brazil, which marks him as one of the most sought-after players in the Premier League.
Barcelona want him. Arsenal and Tottenham too. But it’s Chelsea now in politics for his signature, the Blues are willing to pay more than £ 50m to secure what could just be one of the most exciting signings of the summer.
Leeds fans would not disagree.
Raphinha lit up Elland Road. With 12 assists in addition to the 17 goals he scored, he was directly involved in more than anyone else at the club. Talisman under both Marcelo Bielsa and Jesse Marsch, he was also a nightmarish proposition for opposition defenders.
“Every time I look at him I think, ‘I would not want to play against him,'” he said Sky Sports expert Gary Neville earlier this year. “He’s always a big threat,” added Jamie Carragher.
The statistics show the full extent of Raphinha’s offensive influence.
Since his debut in October 2020, the winger has been at the top of Leeds’ players, not only for goal-scoring but also for creating chances, finishing dribbles and shots as well.
In fact, in the Premier League as a whole, he is in sixth place in these three polls, after only a group of names that include Kevin de Bruyne, Heung-Min Son and Bruno Fernandes.
Raphinha played almost exclusively on the right side of Leeds’ attack under Bielsa and Marsch and plays a similar role for Brazil, but one of his biggest advantages is unpredictability.
He is deadly when he is cutting on his left foot, but he was at the top of the Leeds players for through ball as well as shots and he can go in the other direction as well. No one made more crosses.
Raphinha’s steady passing is another part of his weaponry, both from corners and free kicks, and his ball-attacking ability is also evident in the formidable long-range goal-scoring.
Since his debut in the English Premier League, only Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has won seven off-goal Raphinha goals, representing 40% of his total.
Raphinha was given the freedom to speak at Leeds – “The best thing you can do with players who are so spontaneous is to let them be themselves,” said Bielsa – but he could be asked to choose his moments of choice. which aims to hold the ball.
Chelsea, for example, averaged 62% of the ball against Leeds’ 52% last season, with Thomas Tuchel often complaining about contemplative shooting and inappropriate goals from his strikers.
Whether it is through a pass, a pass or with the ball at his feet, Tuchel will also have noticed how often Raphinha gets the ball into the opponents’ tee.
According to Opta, Raphinha has recorded 468 penalty kicks since his Premier League debut, 73 more than Tottenham’s Son, the next striker on the list with 395, and 217 more than West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen, who is in third place at 251.
It’s a reminder that Raphinha, an undisputed long-range shooter, is also unmatched in his ability to get the ball into the area where opponents are most vulnerable – and the area where Chelsea have so often found themselves.
His work outside the ball is equally attractive.
Raphinha sees Ronaldinho as his football idol, but his compelling talent is backed by tireless work ethic and relentless industry. He is, in that sense, the archetypal modern-day striker.
“These days, my position is not just about letting things happen on offense, you also have to be very responsible in defense,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports in March last year.
“Ever since I started playing football, I have always enjoyed this part of the game, the enthusiasm to run forward and trace back.
“It is always important for a player to be aware that they have to contribute as much in defense as they do in attack.”
That side of the game made him a perfect fit for Bielsa, but the man-to-man signaling system requires pressure all over the field and an almost non-stop run, as can be seen in Raphinha’s figures.
Among the strikers since joining the Premier League, only Joelinton – a player who spent much of last season playing in midfield – has made more tackles than Raphinha, while no one has recovered or intercepted more.
The latest of these wickets, when he cut off a David Raya pass before passing the Brentford goalkeeper to win his Leeds penalty on the final day of the season, set up the most important goal of his two-year stint at the club.
This review of the game was also a typical physical strength of Raphinha in full flow. In fact, between his first game in Leeds and his last, English Premier League figures show that he has taken over 200 high-speed sprints than anyone else in the league.
That’s just one more reason why, less than two years after his arrival in the Premier League, some of Europe’s biggest clubs are queuing up to secure his signature. It soon seems that his tendency towards the magnificent will get a new group of supporters out of their seats.
Raphinha on his way to Chelsea – Leeds are set to leave
Sky Sports News Reporter Tim Thornton:
“Negotiations are underway with Chelsea, this is an agreement that is approaching. But it is not over yet. We know Arsenal are interested in him and they were rejected. Barcelona are interested, so is Tottenham.
“Chelsea’s interest is long lasting and the contract is approaching. Leeds have yet to receive a written offer so it’s about going through the technical details of the contract now and the formalities. It looks like the player is on his way to Stamford Bridge.
“It would mean a good deal for Leeds. It’s not too long since he joined Leeds for £ 16m but what a servant he has been to them. Seventeen Premier League goals in two seasons. This is a step that suits him and “Leeds were aware that this could happen this summer. They were planning this.”