Leeds United sensation Raphinha had admitted that he’s ‘happy’ at the club despite reported interest in him, as he also explained why he believes he is suited to Marcelo Bielsa’s dynamic style of play.
Since his £17m move from Rennes in the summer, the Brazilian has been in sparkling form, notching five goals and five assists in the Premier League so far this season, as well as producing countless moments of quality that have caught the attention of the ‘Big Six’ sides.
The 24-year-old has been a key part of the newly-promoted side’s strong start to life back in the top-flight, with his creative influence seemingly vital. The winger ranks first for the club in chances created (44), dribbles completed (35) as well as big chances created (8), emerging as the real heartbeat of Bielsa’s relentless, front foot side.
Not only the creative hub from the right-flank, the former Sporting CP man is also integral to carrying out his manager’s high press approach, with him having made the third-most high-intensity sprints this season per 90 minutes (26.1) in the entire Premier League.
Despite his creative talents, the skilful wideman admits he has always relished taking on his defensive responsibilities, as has admitted he’s well suited to Bielsa’s style of play, a man he describes as ‘the professor’.
“These days my position isn’t just about making things happen in attack, you also have to be very responsible in defence,” Raphinha told Sky Sports. “Ever since I started playing football I’ve always liked this part of the game, the intensity of running forward and tracking back.
“I think the style of play of the professor’s Leeds really suits my style of play. Thinking about what I do best – my speed and ability with the ball, it’s always important that a player is conscious that they must contribute as much in defence as they do in attack.”
Raphinha went on to add that the Argentine has allowed him to continue to play with ‘freedom’, something which he believes is crucial to performing to your best.
“It’s really important to have a manager who allows you to do what you know, what you’ve already demonstrated you can do in the past,” he added. “I believe that when a team signs you, you’ve been brought in to do what you were doing at your previous club.
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“Having a manager and team-mates that give you the freedom do your best, play your own game and show what you’re capable of is really important for the natural development of the player.”
Such impressive performances have inevitably caught the eye of the sides at the top of the table, with both Manchester United and Liverpool both reported to have an interest in the player, although he revealed that he is more than happy where he is.
“The club, all the people who work here, the staff and the players have really helped me develop,” he said. “I’m really grateful for this and always look to do my best for them all. This creates a bond with everybody here.
“I’m really happy here and feel I’ve adapted well. I think everything’s in place for us to achieve good results working together.
“As I’ve always said ever since I came here, our target is to remain in the top division.
“We know that Leeds are a club who belong in the Premier League. We’ll be always looking to keep the club here. But we’re also aware that we’re a promoted side that needs to adapt to the league like we’re doing now. Our initial objective is to stay in the top division.”