Writing in the latest edition of his CaughtOffside column, Romano explains why he feels Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea are still very much in the race for his signature, despite Barcelona having an agreement with the Brazil international since all the way back in February.
It seems clear that this complex situation is still not resolved, but Romano believes there’s a good chance we’ll see Raphinha stay in the Premier League, adding that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta seems to be a big personal admirer of the 25-year-old.
“The Raphinha situation is truly one of the craziest in recent years,” Romano writes in his column, to be published in full later this morning. “Barcelona have had an agreement with the Brazilian on personal terms since late February, but the idea of offering €40m is far from the demands of Leeds who want at least £65m.
“Arsenal have made a first offer turned down by Leeds, while Tottenham are preparing a proposal and Chelsea have explored the situation with a direct call from Todd Boehly.
“Raphinha had given his ok to Barcelona as a priority for months, but is now really open to listening to English clubs. The decision will take a few days.
“In my opinion, it would be nice to keep seeing him in the Premier League and there is a very good chance for that to happen: for example, I know that Arteta is really in love with Raphinha, but Tottenham and Chelsea are absolutely in the race.”
Should Raphinha pick Arsenal transfer?
On the face of it, it seems like Raphinha should be aiming for Chelsea, Spurs or Barca over a move to Arsenal, but could a move to the Emirates Stadium be an ideal next step in his career?
As Romano says, Arteta is a huge fan of the player, and he would surely become an automatic starter and one of the most important players in the side if he were to join the Gunners. The same cannot necessarily be said of any of the other teams involved.
Spurs already have Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Dejan Kulusevski and Lucas Moura as options in their front three, so it’s not clear if Raphinha would see as much playing time there, while the strict and cautious Antonio Conte doesn’t necessarily seem like the best tactical fit for him either.
At Chelsea, Raphinha could certainly be an upgrade on the likes of Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic, but he could do well to look at how much attacking players have struggled under Thomas Tuchel – the German tactician totally failed to get the best out of a huge talent in Romelu Lukaku, and is another manager who doesn’t seem to afford his attacking players that much freedom to express themselves, having failed to raise the games of Werner and Pulisic at all since he arrived.
As for Barcelona, plenty of top players have gone there and gone backwards in recent times: Raphinha could have reason to fear becoming the latest Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann or Malcom at the Nou Camp.
Arsenal may not have Champions League football, but they’re building something promising under an exciting young coach. Raphinha has the chance to go there and become a key figure in taking this project to the next level.