By George Overhill

25th May, 2022 | 11:10am

Barcelona to formalise interest in Leeds United star Raphinha in 'coming days'

Leeds United are braced for Barcelona to make their interest in Raphinha formal in the “coming days” according to Sky Sports’ Dharmesh Sheth.

The Brazilian has been looking increasingly likely to go for some time, with his agent Deco’s strong ties to the Camp Nou apparently leading to extensive negotiations on terms for if a transfer happens.

Contact between the clubs looked to be delayed until the Whites’ future was decided, but with their Premier League survival now secured an opening official bid looks to be imminent.

UoL Sport had previously reported that the Catalans had made a £55million bid just before the end of the season, although the timing seemed odd.

But according to Sheth on his Twitter account: “Barcelona expected to make formal their interest in Leeds forward Raphinha in coming days.

“Raphinha has 2 years left on contract & not expected to sign new deal. One source tells SSN Raphina would like to go.

“His agent is Deco – friend & ex-team mate of Xavi.”

Inevitable?

The ties between Deco and Barca are well known, and have been helping push towards a move for weeks while he was concurrently negotiating a new deal at Elland Road.

The United star was believed to have a release clause in his current contract that would have made him available for a knockdown price had the club been relegated.

Talks over a new deal largely seemed to hinge on inserting such a clause to suit La Liga’s runners up if Leeds avoided the drop.

Survival has been secured, and without a new deal signed it is going to have to be an offer worthy of his quality to take him during this window.

The 25-year-old’s celebrations at Brentford on the final day showed a man who clearly was committed to the cause right to the end, despite the mooted move developing in the background.

Plenty of fans have resigned themselves to the idea that he is going, and do not begrudge him that, but will want the club to hold out for what he is worth.

Once the formal offer comes in it will be clear whether the Catalan giants are attempting to low ball the negotiations, with their financial constraints well documented.

The Whites hold the cards considering the two years left on his contract, although he might reasonably ask for help in making the deal happen after his service this season.

But even if it requires money to be included in future, they can’t let him go for cheap.

In other Leeds United news, Manchester City will not encounter the same “stubbornness” at Elland Road that they did with Spurs when they chased Harry Kane last summer.