Barcelona in ‘very advanced’ talks with Raphinha’s agent in blow to Liverpool and Chelsea

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Barcelona are making solid progress in talks with the representatives of Leeds United winger Raphinha, who is also being eyed by Liverpool and Chelsea, according to reports. Raphinha has emerged as one of Leeds’ most influential assets since joining the Yorkshire outfit in 2020 and will likely command a significant fee if the Whites are relegated and he is sold in the summer transfer window.

Liverpool were believed to be keen admirers of Raphinha prior to their recent move for Luis Diaz and will reportedly face no shortage of competition for his signature if they decide to act on their interest in his services in the summer. A handful of other top clubs are believed to be circling the Brazil international, who won his first cap for the Selecao back in October, ahead of a potential bidding war at the end of the season.

Chelsea have also been credited with an interest in Raphinha but the prospect of a successful move for the Leeds man remains unclear as a result of the wide-ranging restrictions currently in place at Stamford Bridge. The situation could potentially leave Barcelona as the forward’s most likely suitors, with the Catalan giants expected to spend heavily to bolster their attacking ranks in the summer in spite of their current financial situation.

It seems as though Barcelona have already put the wheels in motion with regards to a move for Raphinha ahead of next season. Club chiefs are in ‘well advanced’ talks with the player’s agent Deco after initially making contact around a month ago, according to Fabrizio Romano.

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It is claimed that official negotiations with Leeds will be forced to wait as they are expected to ‘take some time’, but preliminary talks with Deco are said to be going smoothly. Barcelona have also registered an interest in Ajax winger Antony but are worried that a move for his services may prove too expensive, meaning that Raphinha is likely to emerge as their preferred target when the transfer window re-opens in the summer.

The 25-year-old’s current deal at Leeds includes a release clause of around £62million, but he will be allowed to leave for as little as £21m if they fail to avoid relegation back to the Championship at the end of the campaign. Deco has already suggested that Raphinha may still decide to seek a new challenge regardless of what division Leeds are playing in next season, though.

“There are certainly many clubs interested in him,” Deco told Globo when quizzed on his client’s long-term future back in October. “Liverpool do like him and there were some approaches, but nothing official. Leeds wanted to keep him for another season.

“Raphinha is happy at Leeds, but there will certainly come a time when he wants to take a step up in his career and move forward. He has three years left on his contract, but there’s nothing in it that states how long he must stay for or that prevents transfers.

“Leeds are aware of that and will want to sell him for a big sum, while Raphinha will end up progressing in his career.”

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