Where next for Raphinha? Frontrunners Chelsea facing stiff competition for Brazilian star

Raphinha seems absolutely certain to leave Leeds this summer, but the question is where does he go?

Leeds United's emphatic return to the Premier League was a success for many reasons. They climbed up to ninth, managed remarkable wins over Tottenham and Manchester City, and received plenty of plaudits for their style of play.

But one of their most underrated successes came in the transfer market, with the signing of Brazilian winger Raphinha from Stade Rennais for just £17million.

His superb form has, of course, attracted plenty of attention, with the latest rumours linking him with a move to a plethora of top clubs.

Chelsea

Rewind a few months and absolutely no one saw Chelsea as a summer option for Raphinha.

In fairness, much of that was due to just how uncertain the club's future was looking due to the sanctions of, and subsequent forced sale by, Roman Abramovich.

However, their own future has been secured in a takeover and boss Thomas Tuchel is keen to refresh his side's attack for next season. More importantly, he is backed by new owners who are trying to make a big impression with supporters too.

Raphinha has emerged as a target and Chelsea now look the clear and obvious favourites to land him. Latest reports are that they have agreed a fee with Leeds, which makes them the clear frontrunners at this stage.

Arsenal

Arsenal are also very much in the hunt for Raphinha, although they look unlikely to be able to land him.

Mikel Arteta's men very narrowly missed out on a return to the Champions League last season and this is where it could bite them.

The Gunners certainly seem prepared to splash the cash this summer, so they will be able to afford the Brazilian just as easily as anyone else can.

Their problem is that the player himself is almost certain to take a Champions League option instead.

Barcelona

Xavi Hernandez head coach of Barcelona gives instructions

The Catalan side are beginning to look more like their former selves under Xavi, but the club are fully aware that new arrivals are needed this summer if they are to truly challenge at the top of world football again.

So far, Xavi's signings have hit the ground running, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoying a rejuvinated spell under the Spaniard.

They'll forever be a club with immense pulling power, and I don't think many Leeds fans would be angered should Raphinha accept an offer from the five-time European champions.

Of course the fee could be an issue for a side struggling economically, but if Barcelona are able to cough up the money necessary to complete the deal, then you'd expect the Catalans to jump straight to the top of the list as far as Raphinha himself is concerned.

Liverpool

Fabinho embraces Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool, Premier League

Back in January, it seemed that a move to Liverpool was the most likely option for Raphinha, but the arrival of Luis Diaz over the winter has calmed those rumours.

However, it still shouldn't be ruled out. Klopp is a big admirer of the Brazilian, who is known to be good friends with Liverpool's South American stars AlissonRoberto Firmino and Fabinho.

Fabinho has publicly discussed his desire to see Raphinha swap the white of Yorkshire for the red of Liverpool, saying: "In this market, there was a discussion about him going to Liverpool. For Liverpool, I was hoping that would happen. But in the end, he stayed."

Raphinha's agent has also addressed his client's potential Liverpool switch. "There are certainly several clubs that like him, and Liverpool do like him, there were approaches, but nothing official."

Should Raphinha want to stay in the Premier League, Merseyside could be an option, although whether or not the Reds' interest is still alive is yet to be seen.

Paris Saint-Germain

Lionel Messi, PSG, Ligue Un

Another European powerhouse in pursuit of Raphinha are Paris Saint-Germain, although that looks unlikely after they managed to keep hold of Kylian Mbappe.

Regardless of his desire to play for Barcelona, the prospect of playing alongside Lionel Messi in the Champions League would surely entice Raphinha, and he already has experience in Ligue 1.

The 25-year-old came to Leeds from Stade Rennais, where he spent the 2019/20 season, making 28 appearances and scoring six goals.

He does seem to be enjoying himself in the Premier League, but if a move back to France was on the cards, then PSG will be an obvious choice.

Newcastle United

Eddie Howe, Newcastle United manager, Premier League

With Newcastle's new-found wealth comes an abundance of transfer rumours, one of which is that Raphinha could move to Tyneside to help Eddie Howe's side climb the table next season.

A few months ago it'd be unthinkable that Newcastle would find themselves above Leeds in the Premier League table, and that may open Raphinha's eyes to the possibilities at the Tyneside club.

They're aiming for the top, and don't want to waste any time getting there. An ambitious project could sway the Brazilian to move, and money would be no issue either.

READ MORE: A to Z of brilliantly weird football facts, including Brazil's surprise kryptonite

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