Raphinha strengths and weaknesses as Arsenal, Man Utd, and Liverpool eye Leeds United transfer

Arsenal are closing in on a deal to sign Leeds United winger Raphinha, according to reports.

Arsenal are closing in on a deal to sign Leeds United winger Raphinha, according to reports.

The Brazilian has been widely linked with an exit from Elland Road this summer, with a host of high-profile clubs understood to be pursuing his signature.

La Liga giants Barcelona were said to be leading the race for the 25-year-old for quite some time, but ongoing financial issues at Camp Nou look to have derailed any potential agreement.

As such, the door has been opened for a number of Premier League sides to sign the Leeds star, with Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool all touted as admirers.

Recent developments would suggest that it is Arsenal who have emerged as his most likely destination, however, with Goal reporting that a transfer is moving closer to completion.

With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at Raphinha’s all-round game to determine where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and what he could offer to the Gunners if he were to make a move to north London.

Strengths

Since arriving in the Premier League back in 2020, Raphinha has consistently produced standout performances for Leeds United.

The winger hit 11 goals in 35 top flight outings last term, and played a vital role in helping Jesse Marsch’s side to avoid relegation.

In a season during which Leeds frequently flirted with the prospect of a return to the Championship, his contributions in the final third made a notable difference in their survival fate.

Arguably, the most overt strength that Raphinha possesses is his ball-carrying ability.

The Brazilian is a natural showman with a willingness to take on defenders, and his average of 1.8 completed dribbles per game, as per Whoscored, was the highest in Leeds’ squad last season.

Likewise, Raphinha is not afraid to pull the trigger when he finds himself in dangerous positions, registering 2.5 shots per 90 minutes for the Whites last term.

Again, that figure was the highest at Elland Road, and would have been second only to Bukayo Saka in Arsenal’s squad over the duration of 2021/22.

This eye for goal also extends to set-pieces, with six of his 11 goals last term coming from dead ball situations - including four penalties and two direct free-kicks.

Perhaps most surprising, however, is the amount of defensive work that Raphinha gets through.

Whoscored list “defensive contribution” as one of the wide man’s strong suits, while stats gurus Wyscout show that the South American made 3.53 interceptions and contested 5.48 defensive duels per game last season.

To contextualise, the aforementioned Saka made just over two interceptions, and contested 4.6 defensive duels.

All in all, then, Raphinha has proven during his time in England that he is a forward-thinking, creative talent, who is not averse to putting in the hard yards for his side either.

Weaknesses

If there’s one main criticism that could perhaps be levelled at Raphinha, it’s that he isn’t always the most efficient in possession.

When it comes to the fundamentals of retaining the ball, there are times when the Brazilian can be left wanting.

His pass accuracy rate last term was a fairly paltry 69.3% - putting him 25th in Leeds’ overall squad ranking last season.

Again, to use Saka as a point of comparison, the England international completed over 80% of his attempted passes in 2021/22.

Likewise, Raphinha was dispossessed more times per game than every Leeds player except Jack Harrison last term.

Granted, the nature of his role and the risks he takes in trying to advance his side’s attacking capabilities are always likely to mean that the Brazilian is more susceptible to relinquishing the ball than, say, a centre-back, but even taking that caveat into consideration, it’s still something of a concern - and one that Raphinha will be hoping to address if he is ever to take his game to the next level.