Former Leeds favourite Raphinha has talked up playing alongside a superb Man Utd star in what could be a hint at a future Red Devils arrival or a worrying Old Trafford exit.
The Brazilian winger left Leeds for Barcelona last summer in a deal worth £55m (including future add-ons). The 26-year-old had strong interest from Arsenal and Chelsea who both tabled bids, but the lure of a move to the Camp Nou proved too strong to ignore.
Raphinha is yet to light up LaLiga as he did the Premier League. Indeed, he’s bagged just four goals and four assists in 20 league matches thus far.
That sparked talk of a renewed transfer push by Arsenal in January upon missing out on Mykhailo Mudryk. However, Barcelona and Xavi quickly shut the talk down, thus indicating they’re prepared to give him more time to prove his worth.
Raphinha could be given his next chance as early as Thursday evening when Barcelona square off against Manchester United in the Europa League.
Ahead of the contest, the former Leeds favourite spoke to ESPN Brazil and was specifically asked about Red Devils midfielder Casemiro.
The midfield destroyer has been everything Erik ten Hag could’ve hoped for and more since arriving from Real Madrid.
Raphinha described his fellow countryman as “one of the best defensive midfielders in the world” and revealed his desire to play alongside Casemiro for club as well as country.
Raphinha pines for Casemiro link-up
“Man, Casemiro is a player that I always talk about to my friends, my relatives,” said Raphinha (via Sport Witness). “Casemiro is a player that I’d particularly like to have on my team.
“Because in addition to the experience he has in football, in the things he has achieved in football, he’s a great leader.
“He’s a great person and he manages to complete a team with the football, with the quality he has, and with the defensive part that for me, he’s one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.”
If Raphinha is to see his wish granted, either he would have to join Man Utd or Casemiro would have to join Barcelona.
United invested heavily in a right winger last summer in the form of Antony. The ex-Ajax wideman has shown flashes of brilliance thus far, though is having nowhere near the same level of impact as Marcus Rashford on the opposite flank.
Regardless, Ten Hag is unlikely to give up on the £85m man any time soon and with Jadon Sancho back in the mix, a Raphinha deal is highly unlikely.
Casemiro will turn 31 next week and is likely only a short-term option at United. However, his performance levels at present are sky high and there’s no indication United have a quick turnaround in mind for the midfielder.
As such, Raphinha will likely have to wait for the international breaks before playing alongside Casemiro in the future.
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