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Leeds will rue not signing Rafinha

Cast your mind back to the summer transfer window and you will remember an enthralling few months for Leeds.

Having just gained promotion, Victor Orta spent a club-record fee on Rodrigo from Valencia.

They also sealed the signing of a Germany international in Robin Koch during what was an eye-catching window for Leeds.

They also happened to land Raphinha, a tricky winger who has taken to English football in scintillating style. He has contributed to four goals since signing and looks every bit a Marcelo Bielsa player.

However, they missed out on the chance to sign someone with a very similar name – Rafinha.

Leeds were linked with signing the former Barcelona midfielder in a deal worth just over £14m but a move didn’t materialise and he ultimately signed for PSG.

Should Leeds sign a midfielder in Jan?

Definitely

Definitely

No way

No way

Though, this has to be one of Orta’s biggest regrets in the summer. Leeds were aiming to sign a midfielder and they very nearly had one in Michael Cuisance. Unfortunately, a move collapsed after the Frenchman failed his medical.

Bizarrely, United didn’t look at alternatives and now they’re paying the price. Kalvin Phillips operated at centre-half versus Crawley and with the England international suspended against Brighton, Pascal Struijk appeared at the base of Bielsa’s midfield.

It’s safe to say this hasn’t paid off. The Dutchman played just 45 minutes in the FA Cup and thus, didn’t win a single ground duel. When they welcomed the Seagulls to Elland Road, Struijk gave the ball away 13 times – the sixth-worst tally on the Leeds side – and completed 80% of his passes.

That tally isn’t too bad but it was still considerably down on his season average of 88%. Of course, the youngster is a centre-back by trade so is playing out of position, but this only emphasises why Orta needed to bring another battling midfielder to Leeds.

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Who scored Leeds' first goal of the year?

Rafinha could have been that man. Talking about the 27-year-old, former Barca defender Andreu Fontas once said: “Rafinha is a great player. Physically, he is a beast and, technically, he is superb.”

That just about sums up what Leeds need in the middle of the park, especially from a physical point of view. He is a machine at regaining possession and putting his team on the front foot.

The Brazil international has completed 30 challenges across Ligue 1 and Champions League action this term – winning 2.5 tackles per game domestically.

For context, that would put him joint-fourth in the Leeds squad alongside Liam Cooper. It’s a figure that’s just 0.4 below Phillips, but 0.5 better than Struijk.

He’s also completed more accurate passes (89.8) than anyone in the Whites’ team barring Kiko Casilla. Having registered three assists on top of that, it goes to prove that he is an all-action midfielder.

Rafinha can tackle, pick the lock of stern defences and regain possession with relative ease. The £72k-per-week earner would have been a wonderful pick up last summer.

Leeds should rue the day they chose not to make a move.

AND in other news, Imagine him & Bamford: Leeds must revive interest in £8m target who “has everything”…

Article title: Leeds will rue not signing Rafinha

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