Raphinha one of the Premier League’s signings of the season at £17m

Robin Bairner
Raphinha one of the Premier League’s signings of the season at £17m

Leeds United’s capture of Raphinha from Rennes in October is beginning to look like one of the signings of the season.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side paid just £17 million for the Brazilian winger, whose overall play since moving to Elland Road has been sufficiently eye catching to see him linked with Liverpool.

Indeed, Raphinha only seems to be getting stronger on a match-by-match basis.

Although Leeds suffered a 1-0 loss to Wolves in Premier League action on Friday, the performance of the former Sporting CP man was formidable. Indeed, it was remarkable that he did not help his side to a goal.

He created four scoring opportunities for his team-mates over the course of the match, including three classed as ‘big chances’, yet they were unable to profit. These came from his wicked set-piece delivery, with Liam Cooper typically the target. Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal, however, also had a fine evening.

Indeed, on a series of key creative and attacking metrics, he was either the leader or the joint leader in the game. He had more touches than anyone else and no-one delivered more crosses or completed passes in the final third of the field, for example.

v WolvesRaphinha
Big chances created3
Passes in final third15
Shots/On Target4/1
Statistics from Football Critic

In a Bielsa side, though, simply doing the pretty offensive work is not enough. Raphinha did his share of defending as he completed nine ball recoveries and four interceptions – placing second equal and first equal in those categories.

Wolves, though, was not simply a flash in the pan. He has been performing to this standard for weeks. Indeed, in three of his last six games, he has created at least three scoring chances. He also fashioned four against Manchester United shortly before Christmas.

While big-money additions such as Donny van de Beek at Manchester United, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea failing to hit the ground running, Leeds’ signing of Raphinha is not only proving one of the best pound-for-pound Premier League signings this season, but one of the best additions full stop.