In a surprise development, Manchester City have identified Barcelona winger Raphinha as a priority transfer target as they look for a replacement for the exit-bound Riyad Mahrez this summer.
This claim comes from journalist Santi Aouna of Foot Mercato, who reports that contacts have already taken place between the two clubs about a possible transfer involving the Brazilian international.
Raphinha joined Barcelona only last summer, arriving from Leeds United in a deal worth €65 million, including add-ons. The 26-year-old started off slowly in Catalonia but ended his debut campaign on a strong note, playing a key role in the club’s La Liga title triumph.
However, heading into the summer, Raphinha’s future has been a topic of speculation, largely owing to Barcelona’s financial situation and their need to make some important sales.
Recent reports have suggested that the Brazilian international has been attracting interest from Saudi Arabia, with an offer already on the table.
However, his main aim remains to continue with Barça while manager Xavi Hernandez is also said to consider him as an ‘untouchable’.
But, some reports in Spain have suggested of late that the La Liga champions need to generate €60 million revenue in order to successfully register their new signings and contract renewals, and Raphinha’s sale could go a long way in helping them with that.
Now, Manchester City have presented themselves as an interested party in securing the Brazilian’s services. With Mahrez appearing likely to move to Saudi Arabia, amid interest from Al-Ahli, the Premier League and European champions are looking for a replacement.
It had been suggested that Pep Guardiola’s side could look at in-house solutions such as Phil Foden or Cole Palmer, but Santi Aouna reports that they have made Raphinha, whose current market value stands at €60 million, their top target.
To that end, contacts have already taken place between Manchester City director Txiki Begiristain and his Barcelona counterpart Deco over the past week.
It must be remembered that Barcelona have a serious interest in Manchester City mainstay Bernardo Silva. And it will be certainly interesting to see whether the Catalans would look to leverage City’s pursuit of Raphinha to get their hands on the Portuguese superstar.