Thursday, September 29, 2022

Leeds United Closing In On The Capture Of Ligue 1 Sensation: A Good Move By Bielsa?

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

According to Phil Hay, Leeds United are closing in on the capture of Raphinha. The Rennes winger could soon join the newly-promoted Premier League club even though Marcelo Bielsa is a huge admirer of someone else in Daniel James. Raphinha is set to arrive at Elland Road for a fee of £17 million plus add-ons.

What Can Raphinha Bring To The Table?

Joining from Sporting CP, for a fee of €21 million, Raphinha was one of Ligue 1’s rising stars last season. Although he wasn’t as extraordinary as someone like Nicolas Pepe the season before, the Brazilian instantly became a crucial element in Rennes’ attacking unit.

Indeed, Raphinha has impressed the onlookers with his dynamic presence in the final third. Standing at 1.75m, the 23-year-old has a good balance about his game, allowing him to drift past opposing players at ease. He had notably averaged 2.2 successful dribbles in Ligue 1 last term.

Another key element in Raphinha’s game is his ability to find spaces and look for openings. It led to the winger making two attempts on goal per game last season. He also completed 56 passes that led to shot attempts while totalling an xG sum of 6.5, which is slightly better than his actual goals tally of five.

Leeds United are closing in on the capture of Raphinha - Ready to rule the Premier League?
Rennes’ Brazilian forward Raphinha celebrates after scoring during the French Ligue 1 football match between Stade Rennais and F.C. Nantes, at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, northwestern France on January 31, 2020. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP) (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)

Raphinha, therefore, is quite a productive outlet in the final third. He can create chances, score goals and more importantly, provide versatility, making him one of the most interesting attackers in Ligue 1.

Where Does Raphinha Fit In At Leeds United?

Saturday’s game against Manchester City was enough to highlight Leeds United’s over-reliance on Jack Harrison. The winger being ineligible to play against his former club forced Bielsa to start with Ezgjan Alioski, who cannot be trusted in this level of football.

Rodrigo is starting to show glimpses of his talents, but the Spaniard is a better fit in a more central role, either as an alternative for Tyler Roberts or Patrick Bamford. That is where Raphinha could be useful for Leeds United.

The Brazilian can provide cover for Harrison on the left flank, and with Bielsa having Ian Poveda and Helder Costa on the right, it can provide a sense of balance and depth in the overall team.

Whether or not Raphinha can commit himself to Bielsa’s hard-working philosophy remains a question. But, the Rennes winger could be an ideal second half option for the Argentine tactician given the flair and energy he can provide to the table. Hence, the Whites should look forward to the signing of this Ligue 1 starlet this summer.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored & FBRef

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