Leeds United director of football Victor Orta has branded rumours linking Raphinha with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool as ‘clickbait’ and insists the player remains a ‘substantial part of the project’ at Elland Road.
Raphinha, 24, has shone in his debut season in the Premier League, racking up five goals and five assists for Marcelo Bielsa’s side since arriving from Rennes, and his outstanding performances are said to have caught the attention of England’s elite.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still on the hunt for a right-sided attacker after missing out on a deal for Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho last summer and Raphinha has reportedly been placed on United’s shortlist of cheaper alternatives.
According to Brazilian outlet UOL Esporte, the Red Devils opened talks to land Raphinha earlier this month, with the club exploring the finances into a possible agreement at the end of the season.
The report claims Raphinha’s representatives have been receptive to United’s interest and keen to discuss the winger’s summer options with Leeds’ hierarchy.
But asked about the recent speculation, Leeds chief Orta told BBC Radio Leeds: ‘To be clear, we have not had any approach for Raphinha and 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.’
Speaking to Leeds’ official website earlier this month, Raphinha poured cold water on rumours of a big-money summer move and insisted he was ‘really happy’ and ‘really well settled’ in West Yorkshire.
‘I’m really happy and so satisfied to be a part of this club,’ the Brazilian said.
‘And when I found that Leeds were interested in me and they wanted me and the way they accepted me, the way I was embraced, the way I was treated on arrival here means and I am really happy now.
‘Today, I’m really well settled in the city and the club.
‘I thank everybody for their affection. They contributed to this.’