Arsenal are reportedly closing in on a deal for Raphinha, and could have the upper hand in the battle with Tottenham thanks to an unlikely source – former striker Thierry Henry
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Leeds United star Raphinha was always going to be heavily linked with a move away this summer, regardless of the Whites’ Premier League status.
And his name has been mentioned constantly to kick off the current transfer window, with Barcelona, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all being linked with the Brazilian. There are pros and cons to each potential suitor, with Barcelona initially being drawn up as the ideal destination for Raphinha.
However, GOAL claims that Arsenal are closing in on a shock deal for the Leeds star, with Mikel Arteta assembling a new front line for the Gunners. And it appears that Raphinha has already vowed to play for the club, with the legendary Thierry Henry playing a major part.
Henry is one of the greatest players to ever grace the Premier League, and is certainly one of the best to ever wear an Arsenal shirt. The iconic no.14 remains their record goalscorer, and has inspired many stars in the generations that have followed.
And it appears that Raphinha is one of them, as he revealed to the Players Tribune that he grew up watching Henry, and even vowed to ‘play for Arsenal one day’. That day could be coming ever closer, as Henry’s stock at Arsenal could be on the rise yet again if he influences the move.
Raphinha admitted in 2021: “I’d be watching the Prem with my dad on the free-to-air channels. Henry was flying, man. The runs, the finishes, it was crazy.
“I also remember that the stadiums were always full. The songs, the shouts. The noise. I can’t remember the details, but I was probably sitting in a run-down bar somewhere in Restinga when I made the vow. One day I’m going to play there.”
Unfortunately for Raphinha, if he does trade white for red then the iconic no.14 will not be available – as Eddie Nketiah has just been handed the legendary strip upon signing a new deal. But whatever number the Brazilian could choose, he’d be instantly loved should he move to the Emirates.
Henry is regularly still seen attending Arsenal games, and was a big draw for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when they moved to the club. And he could work his magic again, albeit not entirely intentional or hands-on.
Barcelona are still desperate to sign Raphinha, although they’re struggling to find the £60million Leeds have reportedly quoted interested clubs. This fee is thought to be no problem for Arsenal, who are planning another expensive summer haul by chasing fellow Brazilian Gabriel Jesus.
There is one potential threat to the deal, and that again comes via a legendary figure, and a former team-mate to Henry. Ronaldinho is Raphinha’s idol, like many Brazilian’s, and Barcelona will be hoping that the prospect of following in his footsteps could delay a move to Arsenal.
“Ronaldinho was born in the community where I grew up, so my dad and my uncles knew him,” Raphinha added. “I always wanted to be like Ronaldinho. The things he did, the way he enjoyed every minute on the pitch. I was transfixed.”