Leeds United are a club in transition but there is confidence they can emerge from the summer stronger than last season even with the departure of their top two players, writes Mark Douglas
Arsenal’s long-ago bid for the Brazilian was officially made on Tuesday – and quickly rejected as it fell far short of the club’s £50million valuation.
Leeds United are braced for fresh offers for Raphinha as the transition summer shifts up a gear.
Early signs suggest the Gunners will continue negotiations while the player and his club await Barcelona, who are waiting for the transfer window dominoes to fall before they have the funds to pursue their own interests.
It is understood personal terms have already been agreed in principle with the Catalan giants.
At Elland Road it feels like a season of change with so much driving. Few within the club hierarchy need to be reminded that Kalvin Phillips is Manchester City’s number one midfield target and while no contact has yet been made, plans are being made should the former academy graduate depart.
For a team so close to returning to the championship, losing your two best players and expecting not to fight for survival again feels like a dangerous strategy. But it’s saying a lot that there’s a certain calm about the remodeling work they’re undertaking this summer.
First off, they are a club with a long-term vision in mind and interest in Raphinha and Phillips was expected. Leeds bought Raphinha for just £17m two years ago.
Influential director of football Victor Orta was heavily criticized by Leeds supporters as the team struggled last season, but Leeds remain true to their vision of how the club should recruit according to a set plan.
A believer in data, Orta is working closely with one of the industry leaders StatsBomb to partner with the company to develop an algorithm capable of matching players to Leeds’ ‘game DNA’ and recruitment requirements. They are the first club to do so and many of the players recruited who fit well with Jesse Marsch’s desired style fit this model.
They have signed three players so far, the youngest of whom – Bayern Munich’s Spanish midfielder Marc Roca – has real potential to take on Raphinha. A recruitment expert who I voiced it as one of the smartest buys of the summer.
Leeds have more of those in the pipeline and a succession plan for Raphinha and Phillips, although sources are certain Roca’s energy and creativity is not intended to be an equal replacement for the England midfielder.
Red Bull Leipzig’s Tyler Adams, a defensive midfielder, is also on the agenda but other targets are understood to have Premier League experience.
Despite moving away from Huddersfield’s Lewis O’Brien, Leeds wouldn’t be averse to taking the Championship’s best players with them. They are one of several clubs watching Hull City’s Keane Lewis-Potter.