Thursday, March 24, 2022 4:45 p.m. GMT
Barcelona are among clubs keen to sign Leeds winger Raphinha this summer, Sky Sports News have learned.
The club hope a strong relationship with their agent Deco – their former player – will help persuade him to join them at Premier League clubs.
Talks have been ongoing between Leeds and Raphinha over a new contract since last year, but he has yet to sign the proposed terms.
There was significant interest in him from other top English sides in January, but no moves materialised.
His current deal runs until 2024, so Barca would have to pay a transfer fee to land him whether or not Leeds stay in the Premier League.
Jesse Marsch’s side are deep in the relegation fight, seven points clear of the drop zone with eight games to go, but having played at least one game more than those below them.
Barcelona, whose sizeable financial position has been eased somewhat by a new sponsorship deal with Spotify, will be hoping Raphinha’s valuation will drop if Leeds fall.
The Catalans expect to have a limited pool of cash for some purchases this summer, and hope it will be supplemented by player sales.
Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessie has already agreed to join Barca on a free transfer this summer from AC Milan.
And Barca have shown interest in Paulo Dybala now that he has decided not to renew his contract at Juventus and will be a free agent on July 1.
Dembele could stay at Barcelona
The door has also been reopened for Ousmane Dembele to accept a new contract at Camp Nou after returning to form under Xavi’s management.
Vice-president Rafa Yuste said this week that ‘if Dembele continues to feel comfortable, then we can meet his agents and he could stay’ as his current contract nears its expiry on June 30.
It is a change of tone from the club after they tried to force him out in January amid a stalemate and an offer that included a significant pay cut, and was made at the same time as the club signed Ferran Torres from Manchester City.
Despite this treatment, Dembele and his representatives are ready to possibly meet Barca’s hierarchy and listen to a new proposal as nothing has been agreed yet regarding the future of the player and any other club.
He is free to talk to clubs outside Spain and Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea expressed interest in January.
The France international is once again enjoying his football and has some of the best attacking stats in Europe. Dembele has the best assists-per-minute ratio in the top five leagues this season, the most assists in Europe since the start of the year and the second in La Liga all season.
English clubs hunt Gavi and Araujo
Premier League clubs are also reportedly monitoring ongoing contract disputes between Barca and players Ronald Araujo and Gavi, as well as Dembele.
Centre-back Araujo’s current contract expires in 2024 and he is currently one of the lowest-paid players in the team, despite establishing himself as first-choice alongside Gerard Pique this season.
Barca have reportedly made a final ‘take it or leave it’ offer for the 23-year-old to triple his current salary at B-team level, but sources in Spain say Sky Sports News that Premier League clubs would be willing to pay him more.
17-year-old midfielder sensation Gavi finds himself in a similar situation, with just over two years remaining on his youth terms, and at odds over his first pro contract at the club.
Barcelona are said to value him as an academy graduate who recently broke into the first team, but the player feels he should be on par with the Spain international regulars he has become since his debut in the young dynamic team of Luis Enrique last October. .
Gavi’s situation is also said to be closely watched by big clubs across Europe, including the Premier League, although Liverpool have no intention of signing him despite reports in Spain that they are interested.
Barca vice-president Yuste said this week: “We are working to the best of our abilities to keep Gavi and Araujo at the club. I am optimistic. The players are happy here.”
Redknapp: Gavi is the new Iniesta
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp speaking at the Nations League final in October 2021:
“Spain have a player in Gavi, I want to see his birth certificate! You can’t be that good at 17, I’m sorry. He’s absolutely phenomenal.
“One of the greatest midfielders I’ve ever seen live is Iniesta, [because of] the way he received the ball on the half-turn, just like [Gavi does]. He let the ball go past his body and the players tried to get close to him, and although he was small he had a big frame and big legs, he was able to roll with the players. He had those built-in mirrors that all great midfielders have.
“He is so talented this kid [Gavi]. He’s brave, he’s good on the ball, he takes brilliant positions. He is so good, so good. Being 17 and playing in this kind of business, I just stand in awe of him and love watching this kid play.
“He has everything, he absolutely has. He has physicality. What a joy and what a player.”