Fabrizio Romano is back with another exclusive transfer news column for CaughtOffside, with updates on the latest big sagas involving Raphinha, Richarlison, Declan Rice and Lisandro Martinez. There’s also insight on Gabriel Jesus: when his move to Arsenal could be made official, and how they beat their rivals to his signature.
I wrote recently that the Raphinha saga was proving one of the craziest I’ve reported on, and it’s still very much up in the air as Chelsea, Arsenal and Barcelona chase the Brazilian.
One significant update is that Chelsea have reached an agreement with the Leeds board on Tuesday evening for Raphinha. The two clubs have negotiated a £60/65m fee, add-ons included.
From that moment, negotiations began with his Deco agent for personal terms; until Wednesday evening, no official response has arrived but the negotiation continues. This is because his agent Deco has met Barcelona who have had an agreement on Raphinha’s personal terms since last March, but have not yet made a fresh bid at Leeds.
Certainly, Barcelona and Arsenal will try until the last minute to get this deal done, so they can’t be ruled out of the running just yet. Chelsea will have a fresh contact with Deco today to try to understand the situation.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict a deal so “dangerous” for three clubs included: anything can always happen right up to the end. All we can be sure of is that whoever wins the race for Raphinha will be getting a top player – I think he’s shown at Leeds that he’s ready for a big move, and to impact games at the highest level.
Tottenham were also interested in Raphinha, but are now focused on the Richarlison deal, after having agreed personal terms with the Everton striker – more on that and two other potential Spurs deals below.
We could soon see three big signings coming in at Tottenham, who are continuing to show great ambition in this transfer window.
Tottenham are working on Clement Lenglet and Richarlison deals to get both done as soon as possible. Fabio Paratici wants to make Antonio Conte happy with as many signings as possible before the pre-season tour. We know Conte is a demanding manager when it comes to the transfer market, but so far so good as it looks like the set-up at Spurs is delivering him the kind of players he wants.
Right-back is another of the club’s priorities, and I can reveal that the Djed Spence deal has never collapsed despite some reports to the contrary, but it is still waiting for an official proposal to reach an agreement with Middlesbrough.
Still, Paratici has three options on the list for that position, even though Spence is among the most popular. This will be one to keep an eye on, but the club have decent backup plans in case it doesn’t work out.
Gabriel Jesus is an Arsenal player, 101%. I don’t know when the official release will be due because these things are up to the clubs, but the documents are signed.
Chelsea and Tottenham were genuinely interested in signing Gabriel, they had a lot of contact with his agent but he wasn’t a priority target; Arsenal instead wanted him as the star of the project and this made the difference, as well as the contacts with the Brazilian director Edu Gaspar and Mikel Arteta who insisted a lot. Arsenal fans shouldn’t underestimate just how good a job these two are doing for the club in the transfer market right now.
Certainly the lack of Champions League was an issue for the player, but Arsenal have an ambitious future project and so they convinced Gabriel Jesus quickly. Personally, I think even if there were some other good options, Jesus can fulfil his ambitions at the Emirates Stadium. Arteta knows him well as a player, and this could be an ideal combination to help the team move forwards next season.
We should hear about the Jesus to Arsenal deal soon, and there’s also interesting news emerging on the future of Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez. The impressive Argentine has been linked by various sources with both Arsenal and Manchester United, with slightly differing takes on what’s going on with the player.
My understanding is that these are two negotiations at different stages: Arsenal have already submitted official offers up to €40m plus add-ons for Martinez, while Manchester United are currently busy with Tyrell Malacia and Frenkie de Jong, but have had contact with Lisandro’s agents.
The player is so far open to negotiate with both clubs. Arsenal are insisting a lot this week because Arteta is understood to be a big fan of Lisandro, considered a versatile player with top team skills. For now, the Gunners’ interest is more advanced, but this still looks like it could be an open race.
Declan Rice has been a Chelsea target for at least two years but as far as I know West Ham continue to have the same position: there is no intention to sell him this summer, even with the knowledge that Rice will not sign a new contract with the club under current conditions.
West Ham are relaxed and know that only a crazy offer could change that, while Manchester United are only focused on Frenkie de Jong for midfield so far.
Things can change quickly, but for now, I’d take any speculation over Rice with a pinch of salt. He’s under contract until 2024, his club don’t want to sell, and I think there’s little chance of Chelsea, United or anyone else paying the kind of money required to sign the England international. My instinct is that this may be one for next summer, rather than this year.