Strong favourites emerge to sign Raphinha as Arsenal plot improved bid for Leeds star

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Arsenal have emerged as strong favourites to sign Leeds United winger Raphinha ahead of their Premier League rivals Chelsea and Tottenham.

The Gunners saw an opening offer, believed to be less than £40million, dismissed out of hand earlier this week, but are set to return to the negotiating table in the coming days and are ready to submit an improved bid.

Barcelona had been considered as the early frontrunners to sign the 25-year-old but the Catalan giants are struggling to raise the funds necessary to compete with England’s big spenders.

Raphinha had initially been keen on moving to La Liga but, according to The Athletic, is increasingly minded to join the growing number of Brazilians at the Emirates Stadium.

Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhaes are already key members of Mikel Arteta’s first team set-up, while teenager Marquinhos arrived from Sao Paulo earlier in the window.

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Arsenal are also on the verge of signing Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City after striking a verbal agreement over a £45m deal on Friday.

Leeds are holding out for a fee in the region of £65m and although they are unlikely to stand in the way of Raphinha furthering his career elsewhere, they are under little financial pressure to sell, especially given the £42m windfall on the way from City who are set to complete the signing of Kalvin Phillips.

Chelsea are also interested in Raphinha, but Thomas Tuchel’s plan to utilise the player in a wing-back role has put him off a move to Stamford Bridge, while Spurs are currently focusing their efforts on signing Richarlison from Everton.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are also interested in another South American, Ajax’s Argentina defender Lisandro Martinez, and are readying a second bid for the 23-year-old having seen a £30m bid rejected already.

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