Barcelona have made an 11th hour bid to hijack Raphinha's Chelsea switch with the Blues now facing an uphill battle to sign the Leeds United star .
The west Londoners have agreed a £55million deal with the Yorkshire club for Raphinha, 25, who is keen to test himself on the highest stage. The silky Brazilian bagged 11 goals in a struggling Leeds side last term and was a key factor in helping the Whites avoid relegation to the Championship.
At the start of the window, Raphinha seemingly only had eyes for Barcelona but, due to their ongoing financial troubles, the forward was willing to consider offers elsewhere.
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Fending off competition from Premier League rivals Arsenal, Chelsea swooped to seal a mega-money agreement for the 25-year-old. But now Barcelona have finally plucked up their interest.
According to The Sun, Raphinha's agent Deco, the former Chelsea and Barca midfielder, was seen in Catalunya on Wednesday (June 29) to initiate talks over a last-minute switch to the Camp Nou.
The La Liga giants are close to finalising Frenkie de Jong's £67million departure to Manchester United and plan to use the bulk of the funds on the Brazilian.
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Barcelona was always the preferred destination for Raphinha and, despite agreeing a £120k-a-week deal at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea could now see plans for a revamped forward line scuppered. Thomas Tuchel had been hoping to pair Raphinha and England sensation Raheem Sterling on either flank in a staggering £105m double swoop.
Manchester City are still yet to extend his contract at the Etihad Stadium, which expires in 2023, and could opt to flog for £50m this summer rather than lose him on a free at the end of next season. The Blues are also keeping tabs on outgoing Barcelona ace Ousmane Dembele, who could be an option should the deal for Raphinha fall through.
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