Leeds United duo Raphinha and Rodrigo in head to head audition for Barcelona
Leeds United attacking pair Raphinha and Rodrigo face a nine-week audition for a potential move to La Liga giants Barcelona.
The resurgent Blaugrana are believed to be interested in both of the Whites forwards, but if they are to make a move it seems very unlikely that they would manage to pry both out of Elland Road.
Spanish forward Rodrigo is the club’s record signing at £27million but struggled to justify that fee under Marcelo Bielsa, while Brazilian Raphinha has been the stand-out performer this season as his profile has risen considerably.
Phil Hay wrote this week (16 March) in The Athletic: “It is not much of a secret that Barcelona have been watching Rodrigo for a while, convinced that at some stage Leeds might be persuaded to cut their losses.”
Meanwhile, Fabrizio Romano reported on the Here We Go podcast a day earlier: “Raphinha is another name that is on the table at Barcelona.
“Barcelona, they have a great relationship with Deco, he’s even working with the club and he’s really close with [Joan] Laporte. He’s the agent of Raphinha, so this is why the relationship is great.
“From what I am told the player would be more than attracted by Barcelona.”
Best man wins
Despite a terrible season overall for United, the Spanish giants have had their eye on both players.
Leeds would be loath to lose both, especially to the same destination, so the pair are set to have just over two months to use what is left of the season to prove they are the better option.
Neither appear to have had their head turned by the prospect of a big-money move, with Raphinha playing an instrumental role in laying on Joe Gelhardt’s late winner against Norwich last weekend, and Rodrigo ascending into a more senior role under new boss Jesse Marsch.
It speaks well of both of them that they seem to be well-focused on the stressful task of the relegation battle.
But there is no way that either will have entirely ignored the prospect of a move to the Camp Nou.
If they can help keep the Whites in the Premier League then they could justifiably wave goodbye with the perfect leaving gift in their wake.
Relegation to the Championship would mean all bets are off, as the club are likely to have to shed their high earners, and there will be much increased competition for their signatures.
It will be a high-stakes few weeks over the remainder of the campaign for everybody connected to the club, and for two of the attacking stars at Elland Road it likely will have a duel-significance.
In other Leeds United news, a “tremendous” talent at the club is tipped to be playing elsewhere next season.