Liverpool have been linked to a new attacking option ahead of the summer transfer window. According to Football Insider, the club’s scouts are keeping tabs on Leeds United’s £17m Raphinha after he has quickly made an impact in the Premier League this season.
With Diogo Jota out injured and nobody else really staking a claim, a new wide-man is unsurprisingly on Jurgen Klopp’s side’s shortlist to serve as back-up to the blistering duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Between the two African wingers, they have accumulated 22 goals and six assists so far in the Premier League, according to BBC Sport. However, since Mane has been ruled out with an apparent muscle problem, it’s just laid bare the lack of genuine class options Klopp has at his disposal in those wide areas.
In Mane’s absence, Xherdan Shaqiri has stepped in. Whilst he managed to pick up an assist against West Ham, he is still yet to score in the Premier League so far. In fact, he has already bagged himself more than he did last campaign, where he managed one assist across all competitions, via Transfermarkt.
There have been whispers regarding a potential move away from Anfield for the Swiss attacker. A recent report from Fotomac linked Shaqiri to a permanent January move to Galatasaray (via TEAMtalk). However, with Liverpool’s limited options, they have kept the 29-year-old in Merseyside. But if they bring in a replacement, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Shaqiri.
As for Raphinha, his debut season in England’s top flight hints that he could be a solid back-up to Salah. According to Transfermarkt, the Brazilian has contributed to a goal in 50% of his Premier League appearances for Leeds. He currently has four goals and four assists to his name in 16 matches.
His performances at the back end of last year attracted a lot of attention. Raphinha earned praise from ex-Leeds man Noel Whelan, who said: “He’s incredible, he really is – I mean we weren’t sure what we were getting when we bought him, we’d seen clips on YouTube etcetera but didn’t know a great deal about him.
“He’s bought into everything that Marcelo Bielsa wants in a player, which is not just that flair on the field but that hard work and ethic that he brings as well, with the amount of trackbacks we’ve seen.”
Raphinha has proven to be a shrewd signing for Bielsa, and given that this is only his debut campaign in English football, it makes for a pretty exciting future for the Brazilian.
The fact that Whelan has picked out his defensive work should really have Klopp buzzing, who will want any new signings to really buy into the work-rate and culture at Anfield, and Raphinha appears to be someone who is just as willing to do the dirty side of the game.
This season in the Premier League, the Leeds winger has won an impressive 5.3 duels per match, which is actually sandwiched in between what Mane and Salah have managed – 7.6 and 3.2 respectively. The pressing starts from the front, and Raphinha has shown he can buy into that, and that extra bit of energy, dynamism and selflessness makes him a perfect fit for Klopp.
Both he and Jota could be the ideal super subs or rotation options for Klopp and Liverpool as they look to continue their run of winning silverware.
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