Chelsea dealt £25m blow as Barcelona accelerate deal to hijack Thomas Tuchel’s own Riyad Mahrez
Barcelona are reportedly stepping up their efforts to sign Chelsea transfer target Raphinha, who has been likened to Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final star
Chelsea have been handed a major boost in the race to sign Raphinha from Leeds United this summer. The 25-year-old has continued to impress for the Whites this season, attracting the interest from a host of leading European sides.
The Brazil international has featured 31 times in the Premier League for Leeds this season, directly contributing towards 13 goals in the process. Raphinha’s dazzling displays haven’t been enough to steer Jesse Marsch’s side to safety from relegation to the Championship, though he’s still managed to reportedly court the interest of Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona.
According to The Times, the winger has a £25 million release clause in his contract that can only be triggered in the event that Leeds are relegated from the Premier League. The Yorkshire-based side currently sit 17th and are just two points above Everton, but Frank Lampard’s side are armed with a game in hand.
As Leeds flirt with the prospect of Championship football next season, growing doubt has been casted over Raphinha’s future at Elland Road. The Brazilian sees his contract with Leeds expire in June 2024.
Keen to get the ball rolling, Barcelona have ‘stepped up their bid’ to sign the forward, according to The Times. The report claims that the Spanish giants are prepared to table separate deals that depends on whether Leeds United stay in the top-flight this season.
Xavi’s side have reportedly made Raphinha their primary target. With Barcelona also set to schedule ‘imminent talks’ to wrap up a deal ahead of the summer transfer window, Thomas Tuchel could be set to miss out on his very own Riyad Mahrez.
Raphinha has been likened to the Manchester City winger for their similar profile by Glen Johnson, when speaking to BoyleSports football. The former Chelsea defender said: “I like Raphinha – he’s a good player, he’s very intelligent, he’s good on the ball. He’s got a bit of Riyad Mahrez about him, the way he glides around.”
“No disrespect to Leeds, but the player is going to want to go to a top team,” Johnson added. “Leeds are struggling and could want to take the money.
“There are other players out there, but sometimes it’s too difficult to get them out of their clubs. With Raphinha, it’s a real, serious opportunity.”