Arsenal and Tottenham looking at wrong Brazilians as Raphinha’s season stats show
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Arsenal and Tottenham are both keeping tabs on Everton’s Richarlison and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus ahead of the summer transfer window, according to reports. But the north London rivals may have missed a trick by letting Raphinha fall by the wayside after a superb season with Leeds United, which saw him outscore both fellow Brazilians.
Attacking reinforcements are high on the priority list for Antonio Conte and Mikel Arteta ahead of the summer. The need is particularly pressing for the latter, who is expected to go down to just one recognised striker once Alexandre Lacazette leaves and Eddie Nketiah signs a new deal.
Hefty sums are being quoted for Jesus and Richarlison, both of whom are in demand after the former struggled to cement himself into Pep Guardiola’s starting XI and the latter narrowly escaped relegation with Everton.
An impressive goal tally of 11 this season suggests that a move for Raphinha would have obvious perks of its own, however.
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That haul left him ahead of Jesus and Richarlison, who notched eight and ten respectively, and he complimented his collection with three assists. Raphinha clearly knows his way to goal, and the Gunners finished with 15 less than Chelsea and eight fewer than Spurs, clearly lacking the firepower to nail down fourth spot over the second half of the campaign.
Bagging 11 goals is made even more impressive in the context of Leeds’ relegation scrap. Their Premier League safety was only assured on the final day of the season, and Raphinha was unsurprisingly on hand to fire in from the penalty spot against Brentford in a crucial 2-1 away win.
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The 25-year-old is also a better true winger than both Jesus and Richarlison, possessing more flair and capacity for moments of individual brilliance. That could have made him perfect for Spurs whose prospective understudy for Harry Kane will presumably spend more time featuring out wide while the England captain remains fit.
Arsenal may also attempt to hunt down a natural wide option this summer to provide extra competition for Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli. Nicolas Pepe is expected to make way, leaving space for new talent to come in and try to shake up the balance of power under Arteta.
Age is naturally not a factor when considering swoops for either one of the Brazilian trio, given that they were all born within five months of each other.
The huge caveat to Raphinha’s suitability to either Arsenal or Tottenham is that he appears to be closing in on a move to Barcelona. The Catalan side made their feelings known weeks ago, and with Xavi thought to be a big fan, personal terms are not expected to be an issue if the Catalan side stump up the cash.
But that is by no means a certainty after Leeds’ relegation escape at Brentford. A contract clause would have seen the Whites bag just £25million for Raphinha had they gone down, but now Barcelona, or indeed Arsenal and Tottenham, face the prospect of a much larger fee if they fancy their chances.
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