Leeds star Raphinha reveals he had just 20 MINUTES to decide to leave Rennes and move to England… and says that it was ‘always my No 1 target’ to play in the Premier League
Leeds winger Raphinha has been one of the most exciting introductions to the Premier League – but the move to Elland Road very nearly didn’t happen.
The Brazilian had helped Rennes finish third in Ligue 1 last season, meaning they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history.
The 24-year-old told FourFourTwo that the French club had accepted a bid from the West Yorkshire and wanted him to make his decision to stay or go within 20 minutes.
Raphinha’s brilliant form for Leeds has made the move to West Yorkshire worth it for the winger
The silky winger had been a key part of Rennes reaching their first-ever Champions League
‘The board said, ”We’ve accepted an offer from Leeds, so now it’s your call: do you want to leave or stay?”
‘If I wanted to leave, there was a private flight waiting for me to go to England and undergo a medical before signing the contract.
‘Well, if I said it was a simple decision I’d be lying. It was definitely a tough decision. And I had 20 minutes to give my answer! Pretty complicated, right?
‘On the one hand, I’d just helped Rennes reach the Champions League for the first time in their history, and it would have been brilliant to take part in that unique campaign.
‘On the other hand, I had the offer from a traditional, huge club like Leeds, who were also enjoying great momentum having returned to the Premier League.’
Raphinha decided to leave, with his transfer confirmed less than a hour before the window slammed shut at 11pm on October 5.
Raphinha has six goals and six assists to his name as Marcelo Bielsa’s men have impressed
Since then, it has been a match made in heaven, with Raphinha wowing fans worldwide with his repertoire of tricks, while he has produced a healthy number of goals and assists (six apiece) in his debut English top-flight season as Leeds have played an enthralling brand of football under Marcelo Bielsa which has seen goals scored by the bucketload at both ends of the pitch.
Playing in the Premier League has always been Raphinha’s dream.
‘Believe it or not, English football has always been my number one target. As long ago as I can remember, when I started watching football on TV, the Premier League was there.
Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona are all said to be interested in the 24-year-old
‘I enjoy watching English games, because it’s a special league full of tradition, great clubs, managers and players. It’s also competitive, as there are so many top-quality teams.
‘My desire to play for an English club was my first thought before signing for Leeds, so you can imagine how pleased I am now wearing their shirt in the Premier League.’
Raphinha has been linked with Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona in recent months and if his scintillating form continues, the number of interested sides will keep on growing.