What’s the word?
As per journalist David Ornstein, the Gunners made their first offer for the 25-year-old on Tuesday evening, although it was swiftly dismissed by the Elland Road outfit having fallen well below their valuation.
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Writing on Twitter about that revelation, the transfer guru hinted that Mikel Arteta and co will be unperturbed by that initial setback: “Arsenal made 1st formal offer to Leeds for Raphinha last night. While it fell well below #LUFC valuation & has now been rejected, interest remains strong. May be a long/difficult process due to competition but #AFC determined to sign 25yo”.
In his attached piece for The Athletic, Ornstein stated that while Arteta is “extremely keen” on the former Stade Rennais man, it is believed that Barcelona remains the nine-cap gem’s ideal choice, albeit with the La Liga side currently managing an ongoing financial crisis.
Should a move to the Nou Camp not go ahead, the report suggests that Chelsea are the player’s next ‘preferred destination’ ahead of the north London side, with Jesse Marsch and co not expected to stand in his way if their valuation is met.
While it is still days in negotiations, the Emirates faithful will no doubt be concerned to see the pursuit of the £40.5m-rated man develop into something of a saga, as the longer the transfer drags on the more likely it is that competition could build.
Equally, there will also be eyebrows raised at the suggestion that the player in fact favours a move to Stamford Bridge were he to remain in the Premier League, with Gunners supporters unlikely to be too pleased with their club not being the first-choice pick.
Amid the Blues’ reported interest in the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ousmane Dembele, the hope will be that Thomas Tuchel’s side are prioritising other targets, allowing Arsenal to sign the £63k-per star relatively unchallenged.
The clamour for the one-time Sporting CP man’s signature has no doubt been warranted due to his sparkling form in recent seasons, the fleet-footed forward having netted 17 goals and provided a further 12 assists across the last two campaigns combined in the top-flight, having signed from Rennes in a £17m deal in the summer of 2020.
That tally includes a haul of 11 goals and three assists in the most recent campaign, with Raphinha proving instrumental in keeping his side in the division, preventing the Whites from losing their prized gem for a potential bargain fee, amid reports of a relegation clause in his contract.
As it is, the Gunners will seemingly have to pay a sizeable fee if they are to get a deal over the line, although at present it seems they are some way off matching the asking price.