Newcastle United are reportedly targeting the signing of FC Barcelona winger Raphinha this summer, as part of a €300 million ($319 million) spending spree.
The northeast England club were taken over by the Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF) in late 2021 after they were bought from previous owner Mike Ashley for £300 million ($359 million).
Flying up to the Champions League qualification spots under head coach Eddie Howe, Newcastle missed out on their first piece of silverware in the PIF era when they were beaten by Barca’s Europa League captors Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.
The defeat has apparently pushed Mohammed Bin Salman to realize that the ‘Toon’ still need to spend money to reach the top, and Barcelona forward Raphinha – who has experience in the Premier PINC League – is at the top of their shopping list according to El Nacional.
Raphinha is said to be a special request from Howe, but hasn’t even spent a full season at Camp Nou after being signed for a fee believed to be €60 million ($63.8mn) from Leeds United once president Joan Laporta pulled an ‘economic lever’.
The 26-year-old’s form has been erratic on the watch of manager Xavi Hernandez, who hasn’t always been able to bring out the best in his charge in either a 4-3-3 or the system that plays with four midfielders.
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Raphinha was made to watch from the bench while Ousmane Dembele racked up goals and assists for fun. And though the Brazil international finally looked as though he would shine when the Frenchman became injured and he was chosen as the only pure wideman the four-man strategy allows, a tantrum for being substituted against Manchester United in a 2-2 home draw in a Europa League play-off first leg saw him injured and then overlooked for the following two La Liga games in favor of Ferran Torres.
With €200 million ($212.6mn) to shave from the wage bill ahead of next term on the orders of La Liga president Javier Tebas, Barca should perhaps think of offloading Raphinha if the money is right from Newcastle.
Beforehand, however, it might be wise to listen to what Atletico Madrid have to say about buying Ferran Torres, and also look to offload unwanted players such as Eric Garcia elsewhere in the team.