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Where there is smoke, there is fire! On Christmas Eve, TNT Sports Brasil journalist Bruno Formiga reported that Bayern Munich had signed Leeds United forward Raphinha. The Rekordmeister will reportedly pay $55 million for the forward.
The news broke after Brazilian journalists were informed that Raphinha’s academy club Avaí FC would receive around $1.75 million. The club has already calculated the money in next season’s budget.
However, there is a caveat. No source in Munich has confirmed the deal yet. The other problem is that Raphinha does not necessarily meet the profile of player Bayern is targeting at the moment. Instead, the Rekordmeister is looking to extend the contracts with wingers Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry.
That said, the French winger, in particular, has been a problematic negotiation partner and could leave the club. Furthermore, CEO Oliver Kahn hinted that the club could make a signing should the right opportunity arise.
“Financially, we are capable of doing a lot of things,” Kahn said in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “But the lack of attendance because of the pandemic is hurting us.” Kahn, however, also pointed out that one should buy when the market is at its weakest point.
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According to Transfermarkt, Raphinha’s market value is $44 million. The winger, who has scored eight goals and one assist for Leeds United this season, has been targeted by several clubs. One team interested in the forward is Liverpool. As a result, the $55 million rumored would be a fantastic deal for Bayern, even slightly above his market value.
But what sort of player is Raphinha? “He is a classic Brazilian player,” said Filippo Silva, an expert for Brazilian football. Silva runs the popular YouTube channel Tactical Manager and is a member of the Unsackable Podcast.
“Raphinha is a flair player,” Silva said. But Silva also pointed out that the 25-year-old winger still lacks tactical discipline at times. “He is brilliant on the ball and can put himself or his teammate in a dangerous goalscoring situation with ease.”
Silva attributes some of his tactical shortcomings to the fact that Raphinha has never really played for an academy. “I believe he joined Avaí at the U20 level, which is very late in Brazil,” Silva said. “That is very late in Brazil. Before that, he played at the favelas as a young kid. I think he is a typical street footballer; that’s where the flair comes from.”
Raphinha has been compared to Neymar in the past. Silva, however, believes that is an oversimplification, even if he agrees with the comparison. But is he ready for Bayern? “I think Raphinha is ready for Bayern, perhaps not as a regular starter,” Silva said. “But he can have an impact from the bench. If there is one club that can help him reach his potential, then it is Bayern.”
Although at a first glance, the transfer makes no sense, at a second glance, Raphinha does fit the sort of profile Bayern has been looking for even since Jadon Sancho burst on the scene at Borussia Dortmund. The Rekordmeister wants a less direct player than Gnabry and Coman, someone who can create chaos and crack open defensive lines; Raphinha could be that player.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth