How Newcastle United missed chance to sign Leeds star Raphinha in cut-price deal
Leeds United star Raphinha lit up St James's Park last night – but it could have so easily been in Newcastle United's colours.
The Brazilian produced a top-drawer performance as the Whites beat the Magpies 2-1 to pile the pressure on under-fire Steve Bruce.
Raphinha was at the heart of all of Leeds' best attacking moves, and opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a calm, composed left-footed finish after a fine attacking move.
It was the third Premier League goal of the season for the winger, but he wasn't done then. When Newcastle grabbed an equaliser in the second half, it was Raphinha's perfectly-weighted defence-splitting pass found Jack Harrison for Leeds' winner four minutes later.
The 24-year-old took the man of the match plaudits and continued his form since his move from Rennes in the summer.
The £17million fee paid by Marcelo Bielsa could prove to be a snip, but for Newcastle it is a case of one who got away.
Two years ago, during the January 2019 transfer window, Raphinha was offered to the Magpies. Available for around just £12.5million back then, it was a deal that interested Newcastle recruitment chiefs, who had scouted the player on several occasions.
At the time though, United were committed to signing another left-footed attacker in Miguel Almiron, eventually paying £19million for the Paraguayan which was a record transfer fee at the time.
That didn't stop them considering bringing in Raphinha on loan with an option to buy in the summer. That deal never went through, and Raphinha stayed at Sporting CP until the summer, when Rennes brought him to France in a club record £18million deal after four goals and three assists in eight games in Portugal saw his price rocket.
In his year in France, Raphinha helped Rennes to a third-placed finish in Ligue 1, and subsequent Champions League qualification, as he established himself as a player capable of goals and assists.
After a long hunt, Leeds got their man on deadline day back in October and he's already looking like he could be one of the Premier League's bargain buys. Just ask the Newcastle defence.