Arsenal recently lost out on Mykhailo Mudryk to London rivals Chelsea, who completed the lucrative £88.5m signing of one of European football’s most promising talents despite the Gunners being in talks with him only last Friday.
However, the clouds above the Emirates Stadium are not too ominous following the recent 2-0 derby win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, a victory which put Mikel Arteta’s side a remarkable eight points clear at the top.
Nonetheless, Arsenal technical director Edu is still seeking a new winger to bolster the squad and ensure that the crusade to cement the team’s current position is maintained as the 2022/23 campaign approaches the business end, and former transfer target Raphinha is back at the forefront of transfer contention.
According to 90min, Arsenal have made contact with Barcelona this month to discuss the initial threads for a deal for the Brazilian, who signed for the La Liga giants from Leeds United in a £55m deal just last summer.
The 26-year-old is a player that the Gunners’ hierarchy know well, with the north London outfit circling on completion of a deal when he was at Leeds last year, before seeing the move hijacked by Chelsea, who were subsequently hijacked by Barcelona.
With Raphinha – hailed as a “magician” by former Leeds team-mate Dan James – persistently tied to links away from Camp Nou despite only arriving six months ago, the enticing proposition of playing for Premier League leaders Arsenal could pay nicely into Arteta’s hands as he aims to accelerate talks for the acquisition of the 16-cap Brazilian.
Since arriving in Spain, Raphinha has only scored three goals and delivered five assists from 23 appearances, not quite living up to the heights in Leeds which left him in such stellar standing as one of the most dynamic and guileful creative forces in Europe.
As per FBref, the £199k-per-week phenomenon ranks among the top 11% of positional peers in Europe’s big five leagues for progressive passes and in the top 16% for progressive passes received. This highlights a dynamic presence from a variety of positions in the team, capable of playmaking from deep and offering a direct threat.
At Leeds in 2021/22, he recorded an average Sofascore rating of 6.97, flourishing in his offensive role despite the club’s fight against relegation. He scored 11 goals and provided three assists, averaging an impressive 2.5 shots and 1.9 key passes per game – with this level of output, one can only imagine the massive impact he might have with high-flying Arsenal.
While losing out on Mudryk will be a bitter pill to swallow for Arsenal, the project is in full swing and the Emirates is booming. The potential signing of Raphinha could alleviate concerns over missing out on the Ukrainian, but the club’s current standing at the top of the pool is evidence enough that the road the outfit currently travels leads to gilt-covered success.
With Arsenal’s excellent season in full swing, there are no glaring problems which need addressing, but with a well-placed bid for someone of the Brazilian’s ilk, their position among Europe’s elite could be regained and maintained over the coming years. It’s time to forget about Mudryk and focus on a player in Raphinha who remains attainable.