Arsenal: Raphinha can be Arteta’s own Mahrez
Arsenal could reignite their interest in a familiar figure, according to recent reports…
Arsenal transfer news – Raphinha back on the Gunners’ radar
Spanish outlet SPORT have claimed that sporting director Edu Gaspar has regulary been in contact with FC Barcelona over a potential move for Raphinha, having missed out on him prior to his switch to the Nou Camp.
It’s thought that the Brazil winger, who made a name for himself at Leeds United, is growing open to the idea of leaving the LaLiga giants this summer transfer window but is yet to decide what club he wishes to join, with Premier League rivals Chelsea and Newcastle United also presenting offers to his agent, Deco.
Barcelona are set to demand a fee in the region of €70m and €80m, meaning he could cost the Gunners in excess of £70m.
Could Raphinha become Mikel Arteta’s own Riyad Mahrez?
It seems as if Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has held a long-term admiration for Raphinha, having already impressed in the English top-flight with Leeds, though it would certainly be an interesting move for the club to make, given Bukayo Saka’s immense form on the right flank this term.
That said, with the Gunners back in the Champions League next season, a swoop for the 26-year-old dynamo shouldn’t be ignored, particularly as he could give the Spaniard a familar presence and one that could elevate the club onto the next level.
In the past, Raphinha has been likened to Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez, a terrific talent that Arteta worked with closely during his time as assistant manager to Pep Guardiola. The Algerian winger even noted how ‘sad’ it was to see him leave to takeover from Unai Emery back in 2019.
“He’s scored some very, very important goals. The way he drifts and comes in on the inside it reminds me of Riyad Mahrez,” said Robbie Keane, who was appointed as Sam Allardyce’s first-team coach at Elland Road earlier this week, on Sky Sports (via LeedsLive).
Also having lauded the tricky maestro as a “revelation” with “a real ability”, there is no denying that Raphinha is an electric talent and it’s not as if things haven’t worked out in Spain because he has provided seven goals and six assists in LaLiga this season, despite averaging just 58 minutes per appearance.
FBref liken his statistical profile to that of Saka, as well as another City star in Phil Foden, so he should have no problems in adapting to Arteta’s system and ideology.
Indeed, when compared to his positional peers across Europe’s ‘top five’ divisions, the Barca gem ranks inside the top 7% for non-penalty expected goals and expected assists per 90, the top 8% for total shots per 90 and the top 9% for passes attempted per 90, via FBref, making him a creative yet dynamic threat in the final third.
It is perhaps why his former Whites teammate Dan James once hailed him as a “magician” who “can do absolutely anything on the pitch.”
These are all attributes that are associated with Mahrez too, an immense wizard who is often capable of cutting in and doing the unthinkable from the right flank and in recent outings, he has emerged as the difference-maker for City as they look set to pip the Gunners to the title.
Across the last three games, the 32-year-old has provided four assists, including two in their 2-1 win over Leeds over the weekend.
In Raphinha, Arteta could be getting his own version of the player he once coached; someone able to turn a game on its head and one that could well get Arsenal a little closer to thwarting City’s powerful dominance in English football.
As such, Edu must pay up to land the Brazil sensation this summer.