Chelsea chief Todd Boehly makes last-ditch phone call to pip Arsenal to £65m transfer

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly personally called Leeds United to discuss the possibility of signing winger Raphinha, according to reports.

Raphinha is at the centre of a transfer tussle, with Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Barcelona all chasing his signature in the summer window. The Brazil international has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists in 66 matches for Leeds to attract widespread interest.

Arsenal have already had an official bid rejected by the Yorkshire club, who are reportedly holding out for £65million for the 25-year-old. Raphinha has two years left on his Leeds contract, but appears set to leave the club he joined in a £17million deal from Rennes in October 2020.

While a transfer appears increasingly likely, his destination is far from set in stone. Arsenal are the only club known to have made an official bid, while Barcelona agreed personal terms with Raphinha back in February, partly because his agent is the Catalan side’s former midfielder, Deco.

Raphinha is understood to favour a move to Barca , but their financial troubles and restrictions placed on them by La Liga are complicating any transfer. It is in this context that Chelsea have emerged as a plausible destination for Raphinha.

Boehly’s consortium completed their takeover of the Blues from Roman Abramovich on May 30 and have wasted no time in getting to work. Changes behind the scenes have already been made, with chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia – both Abramovich allies – have been moved on, leaving Boehly to personally work on transfers.

Leeds winger Raphinha is wanted by four clubs
Craig Mercer/Getty Images)

According to Fabrizio Romano , the American billionaire is so hands-on at Stamford Bridge that he personally put in a call to Leeds to discuss Raphinha. He reportedly got the same response as Arsenal, Spurs and Barca: Raphinha is for sale, but only for ‘at least’ £65m.

Chelsea are yet to make any signings this summer but have big plans under the new ownership. The Blues are currently busy arranging Romelu Lukaku’s loan move back to former club Inter Milan. The Times says Inter have now agreed to pay Chelsea £6.9m plus £3.4m in add-ons to take Lukaku on loan for the 2022/23 season, while the Belgian will take a 30 per cent wage reduction.

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Romelu Lukaku’s exit will enable Chelsea to bring in new players
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Once that move is completed Chelsea can begin to focus on incoming players. As well as Raphinha, the club are considering a move for Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling and Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, who is soon to be out of contract.

Although Boehly is currently fronting Chelsea’s efforts in the transfer window, in conjunction with Granovskaia who has agreed to continue throughout the summer as the club make the transition to new ownership, the Blues are planning to appoint a specialist.

Alongside Manchester United, Chelsea have shortlisted former Liverpool transfer chief Michael Edwards to replace Granovskaia. The Daily Mail says that Atletico Madrid sporting director Andrea Berta, former Barcelona technical secretary Ramon Planes, Monaco transfer chief Paul Mitchell, ex-Tottenham performance director Steve Hitchen and Chelsea’s former sporting director Michael Emenalo are also in the frame for the job.

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