Leeds United: Raphinha’s agent Deco explains what REALLY happened when the winger left Elland Road

Leeds United: Raphinha’s agent Deco explains what REALLY happened when the winger left Elland Road

Deco has opened the lid on the advice he gave to Barcelona superstar Raphinha prior to his 2022 move from Leeds United.

The 27-year-old moved from Elland Road for a fee believed to be in the region of £55m, penning a five-year deal with the Catalan giants.

Deco, acting as the winger’s agent, has admitted the former Whites winger was not short of options from other suitors across Europe, in an exclusive interview with FourFourTwo.

Deco celebrates after scoring for Barcelona against Celtic in 2004.

Former Barcelona star Deco helped Raphinha move to Camp Nou, too (Image credit: Getty Images)

“Actually, I didn’t push hard,” began the ex-Barcelona midfielder. “You know, club presidents don’t usually tell the whole story. Raphinha was very serious and professional with Leeds. 

“He had a clause that if they were relegated, his price would drop to €20m, and he was the best player when Leeds needed him most – he ran the most, worked the hardest, and I, as his agent, would be incapable of influencing any player for my own benefit. 

“Leeds wanted to sell Raphinha. Then bids came in, even bigger than Barcelona’s. The owner of Chelsea [Todd Boehly] called me and insisted a lot, putting pressure on me – he really wanted to sign Raphinha. 

“But I didn’t push hard for Raphinha to leave Leeds. It was all by mutual agreement.”

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly attends the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge in London on March 18, 2023.

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly pushed hard for Raphinha (Image credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

With Barcelona facing financial issues, Deco admitted that seeing Raphinha fulfil his childhood dream of playing at the Nou Camp, much like he did, was something he was not prepared to stand in the way of.

“The only thing was that the owner of Leeds had promised, in a desperate moment for Leeds, to sell Raphinha to Barcelona for a certain amount,” he added. 

“After the club managed to avoid relegation, largely due to Raphinha’s contribution – among other players, of course – the president changed his stance because of Chelsea’s offer. 

“I did waive my fee because I thought Raphinha deserved to be happy where he dreamed of playing. He wanted to go to Barcelona, and Barça wouldn’t match Chelsea’s figures. It was an effort I made so that the player could be here.”

Fabinho of Liverpool looks on during a match

Deco also represented Fabinho (Image credit: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Representing plenty of other stars in world football to date, Deco also told FourFourTwo of the delicate responsibilities he took on during his stint as high-profile representative.

“It was great,” he admitted. “I had 10 years as an agent, building a company from scratch. I was able to help players like Fabinho and Raphinha. 

“It’s something I’m proud of. But it’s in the past now, as I’ve been taking on a new challenge as Barcelona’s sporting director.”

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