Liverpool want to sign Raphinha in the transfer window, according to reports. They’ll want to see a couple of improvements, however.
UOL in Brazil claims Liverpool have made their first move for Raphinha. Links between the two actually go back around a year but it seems the Reds are ready to push forward.
Now, the Leeds United man won’t come cheap. He has a £70m release clause, say UOL, and while he hopes to lower that price, Leeds could stick to it.
That is obviously a very large price, though Raphinha’s talent might justify it. He’s a brilliant player and might even be the best possible replacement if Mohamed Salah left the club.
Though, Raphinha certainly isn’t at Salah’s level right now – far from it. Liverpool would sign him out of hope that he develops the same way the Egyptian did after joining from AS Roma, improving parts of his game and using his best skills within the Reds’ system.
But what could that look like? We had a glance at the data to see where Raphinha falls short and how Liverpool would want him to improve.
What Liverpool would want from Raphinha
For starters, Liverpool would almost certainly want to change how Raphinha presses and there are two ways to go about that.
Per Statsbomb data on FBref, Raphinha presses 15.5 times per 90 minutes. That’s a decent rate and in line with both Sadio Mané (14.1) and Mohamed Salah (13.7). However, it’s someway below Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino – both of whom average over 20.
Liverpool are okay with Mané and Salah pressing less because of everything else they do. If Raphinha can match their output elsewhere, then perhaps he doesn’t need to be another 20-presses-per-90 player. But he’d still need to boost how often he presses in the final third.
At the moment, Raphinha presses 5.16 times in the attacking third. That’s slightly below Mané (5.75) but far below everyone else. Salah, who presses the least of anyone overall, still managed 7.93 in that final area of the pitch.
But that might not even be the biggest change. One notable stat of Raphinha’s is his pass completion – he only completes around 64%. That’s in the bottom 4% of wingers across Europe’s top five leagues.
The lowest at Liverpool – in any position – is Kostas Tsimikas with 72%. Mané and Salah are both in the lower end at the club but manage 74% and 77% respectively.
There is a reason for this, however. Leeds ask Raphinha to attempt over nine long passes per 90 of which he completes around 36%. Mané and Salah, in comparison, attempt two and three. That’s a massive stylistic difference and one we imagine Liverpool would look to change in the Brazilian.
Raphinha, then, may not be a plug-and-play addition as Luis Diaz was. He’s still incredibly talented, though, and would be a wonderful signing – there’s just work to be done.