Rafinha transfer: Leeds, Barcelona reach verbal agreement despite interest from Chelsea and Arsenal

Rafinha’s transfer saga is finally coming to an end as the Brazilian winger is set to join Barcelona instead of Chelsea and Arsenal, according to multiple reports. Ben Jacobs of CBS Sports confirms that Barcelona reached a verbal agreement with Leeds on Sunday for a deal worth around €75 million. Personal terms have been agreed since January.

While the agreement was reached on Sunday, the paperwork is due to be completed on Monday, with the player flying to Barcelona for a medical this week, reports Jacobs. The Chelsea deal was also accepted by Leeds United, but Rafinha had his heart set on joining Barcelona as he and his agent Deco, a former Barcelona star, waited for the Spanish club to make their best offer.

While Barcelona’s financial problems are well known as they struggle to sign new talents Andreas Christensen and Frank Kessie, it certainly doesn’t stop them from competing for the signatures of top players. Barcelona’s initial bid of €60 million guaranteed was lower than Chelsea’s initial offer, but the new deal matches Leeds United’s valuation of their player. The deal is expected to be split into installments, but the full structure is currently unknown.

Jacobs also reports that Barcelona are ready to re-sign Ousmane Dembele after the winger found a footing under Xavi. Dembele will take a 40 percent pay cut as he signs a two-year deal with the club. This wage cut will help Barcelona’s financial woes, but more will likely be needed as they continue pursue Cesar Azpilicueta.

For Leeds United, despite losing two of their star players this summer in Rafinha and Calvin Phillips, they have done well by getting over €100m to build Jesse Marsh’s squad. During his time at Yorkshire, Rafinha registered 17 goals and 12 assists in 67 appearances in all competitions. Having already added Americans Brendan Aaronson and Tyler Adams, they have also signed Luis Sinistera, Rasmus Christensen, Mark Rocca and Darko Ghibi. For Barcelona, ​​it’s a move that doesn’t completely close the gap with Real Madrid, but it certainly puts them back in the race for the La Liga title.

What does the deal mean for Leeds United?

Fortunately, Leeds had plenty of time to prepare for the loss of their star before heading out on their pre-season tour of Australia. Rafinha’s replacement has already been chosen in the form of Sinistera, but there will certainly be more pressure on the former Feyenoord player. With 19 goals and 11 assists in all competitions last season, Sinisterra can be electric on his day, providing Leeds with an unpredictable presence. Combined with Jack Harrison in attack, he can certainly create some exciting moments, but the transition from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is not an easy one.

He will be given every chance Marsh can fit in, but Aaronson could also come in as a winger as a last resort. Both players will likely share some playing responsibilities, but the hope is that a healthy Patrick Bamford will make things easier for everyone in attack, as Rafinha certainly had more work to do than he should have last season.

Xavi brings in his boys

In Barcelona, ​​it is clear that president Joan Laporta trusts Xavi’s judgement. Laporta was not a fan of Dembele, hoping to sell him this summer, but Xavi was able to ensure that someone he trusted was kept. Dembele was effective with limited minutes last season, leading the team in assists with 13 in just 15 starts, and should get plenty more playing with Rafinha.

It speaks volumes for the shirt appeal Rafinha and Deco have been waiting for at Barcelona despite economic uncertainty compared to Chelsea’s. Even with an accepted offer and the chance to agree personal terms to stay in the Premier League on the table, Barcelona still won.

How will Barcelona line up?

Playing in a 4-3-3, things will be a bit fluid for Barcelona next season. They essentially have four starting options for three spots, but one is easy to fill. With Adama Traore recalled to Wolves after starting just four games and registering two assists, Rafinha’s preferred right wing will be wide open. His direct style will suit the Barcelona way, as regardless of where he gets the ball, he will be able to aim at goal and pick out other attackers.

Dembele’s retention allows Xavi to rotate Pierre Emerick-Aboumayang and Ferran Torres through the middle, with Torres and Dembele also splitting time on the left side of the front three. Memphis Depay could also play a role if he stays at Barcelona, ​​but it seems more likely that he will move. With Champions League commitments, Gavi Paez and Ansu Fati will see more minutes if they can stay healthy with other young talents also involved. In terms of depth, the team is slowly closing in on Real Madrid, especially if they can keep hold of Frenkie de Jong to make their midfield work as they continue to pursue Robert Lewandowski.

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