Raphinha has opened up on transfer speculation linking him with Manchester United and Liverpool, following the winger’s eye-catching debut season at Leeds.
The Brazilian signed for Leeds in a £17m deal from Rennes last summer and has since emerged as one of the signings of the season, scoring six goals and providing nine assists as Marcelo Bielsa’s side enjoyed an impressive return to the top division.
Raphinha’s performances have seen him linked with international recognition, whilst he has reportedly attracted attention from some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs with Manchester United and Liverpool reported to be among his admirers.
The 24-year-old admits he is flattered to hear transfer speculation linking him with England’s ‘giant teams’, having grown up as an avid fan and watcher of the Premier League.
“It is difficult to explain how I feel when I hear speculation about giant teams like Liverpool and Manchester United being interested in signing me,” he told Brazilian publication UOL Sport.
“Man, I grew up watching these teams on TV. I saw [Wayne] Rooney, [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, but I also saw [Steven] Gerrard, as well as others like [Thierry] Henry, Deco, [Frank] Lampard.
“There are so many players of such quality that it is difficult to say if I mirrored one of them.
“I think I mirrored the league, you know? I loved watching it and dreamed of playing here.”
Raphinha spoke of his happiness with life at Leeds however, having made a huge impact to help the newly-promoted side to a ninth-placed finish in the Premier League this season.
The winger admits he is ‘not even thinking about leaving’ Elland Road following his success this season and has thanked the club and fans for their support during his debut campaign.
— E-Leeds United (@e_LeedsUnited) May 20, 2021
“Today I’m making people happy with my football,” Raphinha added.
“I am not only talking about the other clubs, but also Leeds, who were the ones who took a chance on me.
“They are all very nice, including the supporters who seem to have a great affection for me.
“I have four years remaining on my contract and I’m not even thinking about leaving here for exactly this reason: I am happy and making others happy.”
He did, however, discuss his relationship with players from both Liverpool and Manchester United, revealing his friendship with former Sporting Lisbon teammate Bruno Fernandes and a host of the Premier League’s Brazilian contingent.
The star described Roberto Firmino as a ‘great friend’ and revealed how the Liverpool forward was the first player to message him upon his signing for Leeds last summer.
“It’s funny that I have friends at both clubs [Liverpool and Manchester United],” he added. ‘Bruno Fernandes played with me for a year that seemed like many more at Sporting and he became almost like an older brother.
“We talk every day but not about football, more just our antics. Even though it’s from a distance, it helps me a lot.
“At United there’s Alex Telles. I can’t even tell you how many times I have played against him, he’s a tough player, but always with respect. There’s Fred, who’s from the south too.
“But in Liverpool there is Alisson who is from the south too, so everything stays the same. There is still Fabinho, who is from the same place as Firmino and I.
“In fact, did you know that Firmino was the first guy who texted me when I came here? He’s a great friend.”