Leeds United have made Raphinha transfer stance clear amid ongoing January interest in winger - YEP 29/1/22
Leeds United's transfer stance regarding star winger Raphinha has been made clear throughout the January window.
By Joe Urquhart
The Whites wide man has gathered a long list of admirers across Europe thanks to his stunning form since making the £17m switch to Elland Road from Stade Rennes in October 2020.
Raphinha has taken the Premier League by storm over the past two seasons, scoring 14 goals and recording 11 assists in his 49 top flight appearances for Leeds to date.
Liverpool were credited with interest in the Brazil international last summer while Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich were reported to be monitoring his situation in December.
An unlikely destination in West Ham is another club to emerge in recent days, after several reports on Friday and Saturday suggested the Hammers had contacted United over a potential deal before Monday's winter deadline day.
Majority owner Andrea Radrizzani has made little secret of the club's acceptance that player sales will be necessary in future if they are to follow the Leicester City model in West Yorkshire, but a January departure would make next to no sense for Raphinha - a man who has been carrying United's main attacking threat in a difficult season.
Leeds have made no secret of their ambition to hand the 25-year-old an improved deal at Elland Road with his current contract due to expire in the summer of 2024.
Talks between sporting director Victor Orta and his agent Deco have been ongoing after the latter was spotted at Elland Road in mid-December.
Marcelo Bielsa's senior squad are also severely depleted in their ongoing top flight battle - as they sit 15th, seven points above the drop zone - and cannot afford to let any key players go amid the injury crisis.
The message from LS11 all month has been that Raphinha is going nowhere in January and nothing has indicated otherwise or a shift in position.
Bielsa also praised the club's decision to open up fresh contract talks with the tricky winger a few weeks ago.
“It’s a great decision,” said Bielsa. “Raphinha’s the best player in the team in all the senses. Physically he’s the best, technically he’s at the level of the best and his interpretation of the game is very wise.
“He’s within the group of such a powerful nation as Brazil, he shines in the Premier League and he has the attention of all the big clubs in the world.
“All of those things are something you guys know as well. Nothing I’m saying is new. As a result, the decision of the club can only be valued.”