Barcelona completes Raphinha deal worth up to £55m

Barcelona have signed Brazil forward Raphinha from Leeds United in a deal worth up to £55m.

The 25-year-old Brazilian forward was unveiled to fans at the Catalan club’s training ground on Friday.

Raphinha, who joined Leeds from French side Rennes for £17m in 2020, made 65 Premier League appearances for the Yorkshire club, scoring 17 goals and providing 12 assists.

“It’s a dream come true since I was a kid,” Raphinha told Barca TV.

“I’m going to give my best.”

Leeds United paid tribute to Raphinha in a club statement confirming his departure: “We would like to place on record our sincere gratitude to Raphinha for his effort and contribution whilst at the football club.

“He showed unquestionable commitment and professionalism until the very end of his time at Elland Road and his celebrations at the Brentford Community Stadium will live long in the memory.”

Raphinha scored a penalty for Leeds in a 2-1 victory at Brentford on the final day of the 2021/22 season that secured their place in the Premier League.

Leeds and Barcelona reached an agreement in principle on Wednesday, with the initial fee, reported to be £50m, rising to a potential £55m with add-ons. Contract details are yet to be confirmed but the Brazilian forward is expected to sign for five years.

Raphinha had appeared set for a move to Chelsea until Barcelona expressed interest.

Chelsea’s Premier League rivals Arsenal and Spurs were also understood to have been keen on the Elland Road attacker but his preferred choice has always been to switch to La Liga.

He made his full senior debut for Brazil in October and has since earned nine caps and scored three goals for the national side.

Raphinha is the second major player to depart Leeds this summer following Kalvin Phillips’ £45m move to Manchester City.

Raphinha’s departure from Leeds will undoubtedly dent their attacking threat.

He was involved in 28% of their league goals during his two seasons in the Premier League, more than any of his team-mates.

His 17 goals were only bettered by Patrick Bamford, with 19, and no other Leeds player could match his 12 assists.

Barcelona manager Xavi will be keen to harness that potential.

Spanish football writer Andy West said: “Xavi’s love of pace, width, tactical variety and an appetite for running explains why he has been pinpointed, along with his obvious creative qualities, the fact he is approaching his peak age and his strong desire to join the club.

“Tactically, the re-signing of Ousmane Dembele means the Brazilian could often be fielded on the left flank – he is, after all, left-footed despite spending most of his time at Leeds on the right.

“Raphinha’s solid defensive attributes also give Xavi the option of fielding him as a wing-back in his preferred 3-4-3 formation.”