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'Without Bielsa, I probably wouldn't be at Barca' - Raphinha grateful for former Leeds manager's 'teachings'

12:54 EAT 27/07/2022
The winger has reflected on the role the Argentine head coach played in his development at Elland Road

Raphinha has expressed his gratitude towards Marcelo Bielsa and hailed the Argentine manager for his "teachings", which have helped him settle down quickly in his new surroundings at Barcelona. The Brazilian moved to Camp Nou from Leeds United in a €65 million (£55m/$66m) deal this summer after two impressive seasons at Elland Road.

Much of Raphinha's time at Leeds was spent under Bielsa, who was sacked by the club in February, and he has credited the Argentine coach for helping him realise his dream of playing at Camp Nou.

What did Raphinha say about Marcelo Bielsa?

"He is a coach who helped me a lot from the first moment I arrived at Leeds," Raphinha told Mundo Deportivo when quizzed on his former mentor.

"He always demands more, always demands maximum performance. He helped me get to the national team and helped me get to Barça. If it wasn't for his teachings, as a group or individually, I probably wouldn't be here.

"In addition to having a style of play that is always respectful of the ball, he seeks maximum performance in training and in games, he was an important person for me and for my career, I will always carry him with me."

However, the 25-year-old says his current Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez works quite differently from Bielsa.

"They are different, Marcelo has a unique way of working," Raphinha added. "It's the 'Marcelo Bielsa style', let's call it that. 

"Every technician is different. Just as each person has a way of leading his life, each player and each coach is different in their work."

How has Raphinha performed so far at Barca?

Raphinha had a flying start to his Barcelona career as he scored once and laid two assists on his debut against Inter Miami. He was a live wire on the right wing and was the most creative player for Barcelona in the 6-0 friendly victory.

He followed it up with another spectacular goal in the Blaugrana's next pre-season outing, rifling into the top corner from 25 yards to give Xavi's side a Clasico win over arch-rivals Real Madrid.

Barcelona still have a couple of friendlies lined up against NY Red Bulls and Pumas UNAM on July 31 and August 7 respectively before attention turns to their 2022-23 La Liga opener against Rayo Vallecano on August 13.