Barcelona’s desire to bring Lionel Messi back to the Nou Camp is one of football’s worst-kept secrets, but in order for the Catalan giants to re-sign arguably their greatest-ever player, the club must balance their wage structure, and one player who could be sacrificed in order to facilitate such a deal is winger Raphinha.
That is the view of Sky Sports journalist Dharmesh Sheth, who has speculated that Raphinha could be subject to a summer tug-o-war for the second time in as many seasons.
Having been made available by Leeds United last summer, Raphinha, 26, was wanted by a handful of clubs, including London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.
And although Xavi’s Barcelona ended up winning the race to sign the Brazilian attacker due to the player’s preference to play at the Nou Camp, there are no guarantees the 26-year-old will continue there next season.
What’s the latest transfer news on Barcelona’s Raphinha?
Even though there is no realistic way for Chelsea to try for Raphinha again due to their need to trim their squad, according to Sheth, Arsenal and the Emirates Stadium remain a possible destination for the former Leeds United winger.
“I still think the right forward position is probably an area that they [Arsenal ] do want to strengthen as well,” Sheth told GiveMeSport.
“Bukayo Saka has done unbelievably well as we all know, but we do also know that last summer they tried to get Raphinha and I wonder if they will go for him again.
“I think Barcelona is a club that intrigues everyone and is one to look at this summer. Because if Messi was to make that incredible return, he’s not going to be cheap and you would guess that there would have to be departures to get wages off-the-books at Barcelona. Could Raphinha be one of those that could be allowed to leave and would Arsenal revisit that? It’s going to be really, really interesting this summer I think.”
During his first season with Barcelona, Raphinha, who has four years left on his deal, has scored 10 goals and provided 11 assists in 45 games in all competitions.