Prepare to sound the panic alarm – Raphinha is a big Leeds United doubt for Monday’s clash with Liverpool, and that could prove fateful to our chances.
The Brazilian winger, 24, has been an utter revelation since moving from French side Rennes in October.
He’s scored six and assisted the same amount in 26 Premier League appearances [WhoScored] this season and he’s dazzled with some sizzling skills that have dumbfounded opponents.
After three substitute outings Raphinha has started every single league match to help propel us to 10th in the table and eyeing an unlikely European spot in our first season back in the big time since 2004.
A whole host of players can claim to have had a substantial impact in this brilliant season, but we think Raphinha has been the difference-maker with his driving runs and ability to relieve pressure as well as his goal contributions.
But he could be set to miss his first Whites game since November 2 after picking up a thigh problem in last week’s shock 2-1 win at Manchester City.
The Athletic’s Phil Hay relayed some worrying news from Marcelo Bielsa’s press conference at Thorp Arch on Thursday.
He tweeted: “From Bielsa’s presser – Raphinha is a doubt for the Liverpool game with the knock sustained at City.”
From Bielsa's presser – Raphinha is a doubt for the Liverpool game with the knock sustained at City. Rodrigo is still recovering from a muscular problem.
Forshaw did well in the bounce game last weekend and is lined up to play for the U23s against Aston Villa tomorrow. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) April 15, 2021
The good news is that Jack Harrison will be back after he was ineligible to line up against his parent club at the Etihad Stadium, so there will be a natural winger to replace Raphinha in the starting XI if our worst fears are confirmed.
But as good as Harrison has been, there’s simply no comparison to Raphinha, and it means Helder Costa will probably have to start once again.
Costa put in a decent shift versus Pep Guardiola’s side but we’ve not seen consistency from him this season and we’re worried that the levels will drop considerably without Raph.
Liverpool are Monday night’s visitors to Elland Road on Monday and with him we’d surely be eyeing another big scalp.
The reigning Premier League champions have looked defensively vulnerable this season, especially without Virgil Van Dijk in the side, with Trent Alexander-Arnold horribly exposed at times.
Raphinha usually lines up on the right-hand side but we can imagine him drifting over to the left and running rings around Alexander-Arnold and Nat Phillips at any given opportunity.
He’s a warrior our Raph, so we’ve got fingers crossed that he’ll battle through for Monday’s game, but his absence would strike a big blow on our hopes of a positive result.
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