Leeds winger Raphinha is catching the eye in his first season in the Premier League, so much so that Liverpool are claimed to be eyeing a summer move for the Brazilian.
With the Reds’ title defence crumbling, and the settled first-team squad in need of refreshing, Jurgen Klopp, Michael Edwards and the club’s recruitment staff will already be looking ahead.
It is clear that Liverpool will require reinforcement in the next transfer window, and the hope will be that they are in a more stable position financially in order to do so.
One of the areas that may require bolstering is in attack, despite Diogo Jota arriving as top-class competition and Harvey Elliott and Takumi Minamino potentially taking up roles on their return from loan.
At least one forward is likely to be brought in, with question marks over the futures of Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
France Football claim that Raphinha is at the “top of their shortlist,” having made a big impact since joining Leeds in a £17 million deal last summer.
It can be argued that this is not the most reliable source, given the player is Brazilian and the deal would be between two English clubs, but the information may have stemmed from his ties to France after a season with Rennes.
This is not the first time Liverpool have been touted with an interest in Raphinha, either, and it comes as little surprise given his ability.
Full piece coming tomorrow about running stats, so in the meantime here's a chart looking at the average distance and count of sprints by forwards in the Premier League this season:
????? Burke = sprints the most
????? Rashford = over longer distances
????? Salah = little + often pic.twitter.com/bPU3FahKvw
— Tom Worville (@Worville) February 2, 2021
Analysis from The Athletic’s Tom Worville highlights the 24-year-old as one of the Premier League‘s most prolific sprinters, while his six goals and six assists in 25 games so far this season attest to his end product.
Raphinha most regularly plays on the right flank for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, but is also capable of operating on the other wing and as a central attacking midfielder.
An all-rounder out wide, the former Sporting CP forward would suit Klopp’s system perfectly, and if he joined would increase the pressure on the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, in tandem with Jota.
However, a deal may be costly, given Raphinha only swapped Rennes for Leeds last summer, and having signed a long-term contract with the promoted club, The Athletic‘s Phil Hay argues that “he would cost a lot of money.”
Liverpool likely have other options to consider, namely Sporting’s Pedro Goncalves and Rennes’ Jeremy Doku, but Raphinha is certainly one to keep an eye on in the months ahead.