Barcelona’s summer signing Raphinha has opened up on the reason behind his move to the Catalan giants.
The Brazilian forward had no shortage of options, after another strong season at Leeds, but revealed that a conversation with his compatriot Neymar led him to choose Barca over Premier League giants Chelsea.
Raphinha had been one of Chelsea’s primary transfer targets in a summer that saw them splash a league-record spend of more than £270million, but the former Leeds winger instead moved to the Nou Camp in a £56m switch.
The 25-year-old explained how Neymar’s words helped him make the decision, but also suggested the move was a foregone conclusion in his mind due to his own love for the club.
Raphinha explained: ‘I talked to Neymar about a move and he told me that if I get to Barcelona then I won’t regret and he was right.
‘I rejected Chelsea because my dream was to wear the Barcelona shirt.’
And he also admitted he was shocked by the positive reception he was given by the Blaugrana fans, saying: ‘What surprised me in the club? Without a doubt the warm welcome of the fans, the coaching staff and the players, everyone is good and looking to help the new players.’
Although Raphinha only joined Barca this summer, he actually has quite a long-standing affiliation with the club due to a surprise relative.
When Raphinha was a child, his father, Rafael, was reportedly part of a band named Samba Tri in Porto Alegre in Brazil, the hometown of one of the football-crazy nation’s greatest exports – Ronaldinho, who befriended Rafael.
As a result of the pair’s friendship, Raphinha reportedly began accompanying his dad to barbecues at Ronaldinho’s house in Porto Alegre during the off-season, and formed a strong bond with his father’s friend, who naturally became a role model.