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Raphinha work rate proves he is perfect replacement for Nicolas Pepe at Arsenal

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The summer transfer window has only been open for a fortnight but already Arsenal have been linked with a huge number of incomings and outgoings ahead of their push for Champions League football under Mikel Arteta next season.

The Gunners made a massive transfer outlay of around £150million last summer and brought in six first-team players including Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Martin Odegaard. The new additions had a good season settling into life at the Emirates Stadium but the squad ultimately fell short of a top-four spot, something Arteta and Edu are desperate to make sure doesn’t happen again next year.

To that end, funds are being made available to spend on players once again this summer, with the club needing to improve their squad depth in order to sustain high levels of performance through to the business end of the season.

READ MORE: Raphinha to Arsenal transfer: Personal terms ‘agreed’, deal ‘close’, Barcelona and Chelsea worry

Arsenal have announced two additions already, signing teenage winger Marquinhos from Sao Paulo and spending around £34million to bring Portuguese central midfielder Fabio Vieira in from Porto. A deal to bring American goalkeeper Matt Turner from New England Revolution is also close to being sealed but they’re certainly not done there, with the forward line still needing to be addressed following the departures of both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette from the club’s books this year.

Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus is reportedly the next player to be heading to the Emirates with a £45million deal said to be agreed with the Premier League champions for the Brazilian. Then there’s Jesus’ compatriot Raphinha, who in recent days has become increasingly linked with a move from Leeds to north London.

Spanish giants Barcelona are also keen on a move but seem to be struggling to put up the cash required for a deal for the winger, with Leeds looking for a fee in the region of £65million for their star player who scored 11 league goals and contributed three assists last season.

But it’s not just goal involvements that make Raphinha the player he is, nor is it the sole reason for some of the biggest clubs in world football to be trying to sign him. The Brazilian is also a master of creating space for others on the pitch, with his sprints and targeted off-ball runs above and beyond what anybody else could even get close to last season in the Premier League.



Raphinha's sprints and targeted off-ball runs into the final third per 90 minutes compared to other Premier Legaue players last season
Raphinha’s sprints and targeted off-ball runs into the final third per 90 minutes compared to other Premier Legaue players last season

According to the Analyst, Raphinha made an average of 30 sprints in every game – some distance ahead of closest competitors Rodrigo, Andy Robertson and Bryan Mbeumo – while also making eight targeted off-balls runs into the final third per 90 minutes that saw streaks ahead of players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-Min.

With that kind of work rate it’s no wonder that clubs are desperate to sign him, and Arsenal fans have pointed out that he’d be a significant upgrade on current Gunners wide man Nicolas Pepe whose off-ball efforts have been criticised at times following his £72million arrival in 2019. The Ivorian international is now on the cards to leave north London this summer and will go down as an expensive transfer flop, but bringing Raphinha to the Emirates as his replacement could help them forget very quickly.

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