Leeds United

Leeds United: Two replacements as Raphinha nears exit

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Emerging reports from Spain would seem to suggest that Raphinha’s days at Leeds United are numbered but here we take a look at two replacements capable of filling the huge boots that the Brazilian threatens to leave behind. 

The winger’s performances in a Leeds shirt has attracted the attention of Spanish giants Barcelona with outlet Sport now claiming that his ‘first goal’ is to do everything in his power to keep the club in the English top-flight as he is ‘tremendously grateful’ to the Yorkshire club  but when the summer transfer window opens, ‘he will force whatever is necessary’ for Leeds officials to accept a move to the Nou Camp.

Leeds know that relegation would give Barca the chance to activate the  €25m (£21.3m) relegation release clause in the 25-year-old’s contract thus staying up is pivotal when it comes to securing the best possible deal. 

He is the club’s leading goalscorer this season with ten strikes to his name and a further three assists (2nd) means he will take some replacing but below we have picked out two names who could be drafted in to fill the void.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

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First linked with a move for the 21-year-old last summer, Leeds, according to Il Mattino (via Sport Witness) it is ‘Leeds above all’ when it comes to who could potentially sign Kvaratskhelia in the summer, ahead of Tottenham and Napoli.

The 21-year-old had been plying his trade at Russian side Rubin Kazan since 2019, scoring nine goals and registering 18 assists for the club, drawing praise as a ‘very interesting‘ transfer target by Sky Germany reporter Max Bielefeld.

Given the current situation in Russia, he cut all ties with the club and was granted a move to his home country where he linked up with Dinamo Butumi in March which may it make it easier for Leeds to snap him up. 

The £12.5m wideman predominantly plays on the left but is capable of operating on either flank. Although not a direct replacement for Raphinha he could challenge Jack Harrison for the left-sided position while Dan James could switch to his more favoured right in place of the outgoing Brazilian. 

Noa Lang

This Dutch dynamo has made a name for himself at Club Brugge in Belgium over the past couple of seasons scoring 21 goals and providing 20 assists in 55 Jupiler Pro League appearances. 

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It was reported in August 2021 that the Whites were interested in the 22-year-old, who instead made his loan move from Ajax to Club Brugge permanent.  

Discussing a possible switch to Yorkshire recently journalist Phil Hay reckons it ‘could be’ a ‘very good investment’ and that former coach Marcelo Bielsa wasn’t all that enthused by the idea which is why a move never materialised. 

Like Kvaratskhelia, Lang operates on the left meaning he wouldn’t be a like-for-like replacement for Raphinha but again he could allow James to move to his preferred side on the right and he could electrify Elland Road like the former Rennes player. 

The £19.8m-rated Dutch international has won some rave reviews, with journalist Zach Lowy describing his performance against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League as ‘absolutely brilliant’ while European football expert Alex Barker likened him to a ‘young Ronaldo‘ and marvelled at his speed.

The picture at Leeds will become a whole lot clearer when the season finishes and the Thorp Arch-based club know their fate and where they will be playing next season.

However, it does look as if Raphinha will be elsewhere regardless.

Leeds’ status will dictate who they can attract and as Hay warned if they don’t stay up they can forget about signing players the calibre of Lang so their best chance of comprehensively replacing their Brazilian star will be significantly strengthened by keeping themselves in the Premier League. 

AND in other news, ‘Out of it’ – Well-known pundit launches attack on Leeds ace who was ‘run ragged’

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