According to Fabrizio Romano, Leeds United are all set to complete the swoop for Raphinha. The Rennes winger will soon join the newly-promoted Premier League club on a permanent deal, with the Whites now ceasing their interest on prime target Rodrigo de Paul. Raphinha is expected to sign a five-year contract, though subject to a work permit and a medical.
Here, at The 4th Official, we will discuss three ways Marcelo Bielsa can utilise Raphinha, who has the quality to become an asset at Elland Road this season.
A Backup For Jack Harrison
On a rather simple note, Raphinha is a like for like alternative for Jack Harrison. A left-winger by trade, the Rennes attacker can add more strength on the left flank, where Bielsa lacked a reliable backup for the on-loan Manchester City winger.
On Saturday, the Argentine tactician even had to deploy Ezgjan Alioski at left-wing as Harrison was ineligible to feature against his former club. It made a considerable impact on Leeds United’s attacking potential, with the Whites lacking that dynamism and flair on the left-hand side.
Raphinha, in that regard, can fill that hole and offer himself as a reliable backup for Harrison. His presence in the side can even provide the Leeds winger with an incentive to fight harder for his place in the starting lineup, ultimately adding more strength and depth in the club’s attacking unit.
An Ideal Cog In The Wingback System
Players like Harrison, Alioski and Poveda are ideally suited in a traditional 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 that Bielsa has predominantly used during his spell at Elland Road so far.
However, given the competitive edge the Premier League offers, the Argentine must be tactically versatile in order to cope with teams like Sheffield United, Wolves and Leicester City, where he could be forced to employ a three-man backline with two wingbacks.
That is where Raphinha could come in handy as the Brazilian has the tendency to drift inside and operate in a more central role. He is ideally suited to a wingback system where attackers are often forced to navigate centrally to provide the freedom to the wide defensive players.
A Potential Alternative To Patrick Bamford?
Leeds United, on paper, at least, still have no viable alternative for Patrick Bamford, even though the ex-Chelsea starlet has kickstarted the campaign on a positive note.
New signing Rodrigo was brought in from Valencia for a record fee. But it is clear that the Spaniard is more suited to a supporting role, which is where Raphinha could potentially provide more versatility.
The 23-year-old currently has no experience of operating as a central striker. However, under the leadership of Bielsa, he could be moulded into an ideal number nine, especially given the fact that he does have an eye for goal and a vicious left foot.
Overall, the pending arrival of Raphinha is indeed a fascinating prospect for Leeds United, who are hopeful of a positive season ahead, following an excellent start to the campaign.