Leeds manager Jesse Marsch has revealed he is hopeful Raphinha can complete his ‘dream’ move to Barcelona this summer.
Barça are preparing to trigger the ‘second lever’ of their refinancing plans for the window, with the Brazil international one of their biggest targets this summer.
90min understands the Catalan giants are close to finalising the Raphinha deal, with Ousmane Dembele set to sign a new contract at Camp Nou too. Raphinha did not join the rest of the Leeds squad for their pre-season tour of Australia and was instead given permission to travel to Barcelona.
Although disappointed to lose a player of such quality, Marsch said the sale could help take United forward.
“There’s been distinct movement with Barcelona,” he said after a training session. “We think that things will move along in the next day or two, but it’s certainly not finished yet.
“As much as it’s really hard to lose Raphinha I will say this about him – if you think about a young man, who was pretty much guaranteed to go on a reduced transfer fee 100 per cent to Barcelona if we were relegated and then you watch the performances and the commitment he had to make sure that the club was going to stay up.
“I think it’d be hard for any, you know, 23, 24-year-old person with that kind of pressure and that kind of opportunity to perform the way that he did.
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“And we are so thankful – I had that very clear conversation with him that a big part for me of us, considering to move him was the fact that he was so committed, that it made it easy for us to be very connected with what his goals in life and in his career are. So I’m hopeful for his sake, as much as it’s hard to see him leave. I’m hopeful for him to get this deal done because I know it’s his dream to play for Barcelona.”
Leeds have wasted little time improving their squad this summer following their brush with relegation, signing Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca and Darko Gyabi. They have, however, lost midfield star Kalvin Phillips to Manchester City.
Marsch added: “With Kalvin and with Raphinha it allows us to take the club on the next steps we need to go in the future.
“So that hopefully the next time that we have a player like that we can make them understand that logically actually the best option is to stay because we’re pushing for big goals.
“In an ideal world would we have wanted to lose Kalvin and Raphinha no, but we also understood the realities of the situation and respected their wishes and dreams. But I think we’re going to be stronger. I believe that from a depth perspective, and even from an understanding of exactly how we want to play I think we’re going to be stronger. And that will certainly be the goal is to use this to help bring in the right kinds of players to move us forward.”