Liverpool are ramping up interest in £60million Leeds wing star Raphinha with Sadio Mane set to leave Anfield this summer. And back-up attacker Takumi Minamino could be the bait to lure the Brazilian to Merseyside.
Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of the speedy 25-year-old attacker who scored 11 Premier League goals and grabbed three assists despite a poor season for Leeds who only just beat the drop on the final day of the season.
Raphinha is on Barcelona’s wanted list but the Spanish giants are still deep in debt and must sell before they can buy this summer. Raphinha, currently on international duty with Brazil, fits the bill perfectly for Liverpool’s high energy style under Klopp who may have an ace up his sleeve in getting a deal done.
Leeds, rebuilding under American coach Jesse Marsch after their narrow relegation escape, are keen on Minamino who joined Liverpool in a £7.25million deal in January 2020.
The 27-year-old Japanese international was only a bit-part player last season although he still scored ten goals in 24 games across all competitions to prove a valuable squad member.
It’s believed Klopp would be prepared to sacrifice Minamino even though Liverpool have already lost squad striker Divock Origi who has joined Serie A champions AC Milan.
Leeds want big money for Raphinha who cost £17million when he was snapped up by former Elland Road boss Marcelo Bielsa from French side Rennes in October 2020. The South American has adapted well to the speed, intensity and physical demands of the Premier League – and has impressed Klopp and his staff since his arrival in England.
The Liverpool boss is becoming increasingly resigned to losing Senegal striker Mane, entering the final year of his contract, with Bayern Munich keen to sign him to replace departing goal machine Robert Lewondowski who wants a new challenge.
Ahead of Senegal’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin, Mane claimed he will “do what the Senegalese people want” after a poll in his home country suggested 60-70% of fans wanted him to quit Liverpool.