Leeds United chief Victor Orta has shut down suggestions that they have received an approach from Manchester United for winger Raphinha and says the Whites have no interest in entertaining bids for their star attacker. Signed from Rennes last summer for around £17million, Raphinha has blossomed into a vital player for Marcelo Bielsa.
The Brazilian winger, who is pressing for a call-up for his country, has produced five goals and five assists in 22 Premier League appearances at Elland Road this term.
His displays, full of flair, skill and style but also crucially substance, have seen several top clubs sit up and take note, particularly Man United and Liverpool.
The Red Devils are eager to sign a right-sided forward to improve the balance of their attack having been keen to bring Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund last summer.
Meanwhile Liverpool want more options to rival Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane out wide, having signed Diogo Jota from Wolves last summer.
It has been reported back in Raphinha’s homeland that United had made an enquiry to sign the winger, who has spent much of his campaign out on the right for rivals Leeds.
The South American is represented by former Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Deco and it was alleged that a meeting was to be set up with Leeds to discuss his future.
But fans’ favourite Raphinha is under contract until 2024 having spent less than 12 months in Yorkshire and sporting director Orta says there is no plan for him to leave any time soon.
Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, he said: “To be clear we have not had any approach for Raphinha. We would not welcome one.
“It’s only for clickbait and to create business for the websites. We are really, really happy and we believe he’s a player that’s a substantial part of the project – and more now when there’s still a lot of things to do.”
Orta also opened up on Leeds’ capture of Raphinha, which came after they gave up on signing Daniel James on loan from United.
He added: “We know the player a lot of years ago – I need to highlight my scouting department. They highlighted him when he was 18 in a tournament in Brazil.
“One of our scouts travelled by car each month at least one weekend to watch him [in Portugal]. I don’t want to take any credit because it’s a lot of people around me to create the information.
“It’s true that I remember I was one Saturday in the centre of Leeds and I received a phone call from the agent of Raphinha.
“He said for difficult reasons to explain Raphinha is available. It was a moment at the end of the market. We were trying for the loan of Daniel James until the last moment. I felt that was the moment to react.
“Then they remember our first approach. It’s a player we discussed before with Marcelo [Bielsa]. I remember at the beginning of lockdown that we discuss a lot of names. He [Bielsa] has a lot of information from France in his period there.
“We talked about him and he asked me my opinion. It’s true his adaptation has been impressive. Normally it needs time. Perhaps the new signings will be better in the second year, but I don’t predict.
“The real credit is with my scouting department that highlighted them. They deserve the credit. They are behind the scenes and are really important.”
Having been nominated for Premier League Player of the Month for February, Raphinha said last week: “The club, all the people who work here, the staff and the players have really helped me develop.
“I’m really grateful for this and always look to do my best for them all. This creates a bond with everybody here.
“I’m really happy here and feel I’ve adapted well. I think everything’s in place for us to achieve good results working together.”