Barcelona attacker Raphinha has revealed how Neymar helped to convince him to turn down Chelsea for La Blaugrana this summer.
The Brazil international’s 11 goals helped Leeds United stave off relegation to the Championship last term, and interest in his services was rife in the most recent transfer window.
The likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were both credited with an interest in Raphinha, but Chelsea soon emerged as the frontrunners to strike a deal for the 25-year-old.
At one stage, the Blues were believed to have agreed a fee worth approximately £55m for Raphinha, but the former Rennes man only had his heart set on a move to Camp Nou.
Barcelona had already reached an agreement on personal terms with Raphinha before closing out a £56m switch to Camp Nou, and he has revealed that he heeded the advice of Neymar when making his switch.
“I talked to Neymar about a move and he told me that if I get to Barcelona then I won’t regret and he was right. I rejected Chelsea because my dream was to wear the Barcelona shirt,” the Daily Mail quotes Raphinha as saying.
“What surprised me in the club? Without a doubt the warm welcome of the fans, the coaching staff and the players, everyone is good and looking to help the new players.”
Neymar had previously spent four years on the books at Barcelona between 2013 and 2017, scoring 105 goals in 186 outings and winning the Champions League in 2015.
Raphinha hit the ground running for Barcelona in pre-season with goals against Inter Miami and Real Madrid, and he has since racked up one goal and one assist in five La Liga games for the Blaugrana.
The South American scored his first competitive goal for the club in a 3-0 win over Sevilla last Saturday, and he played 72 minutes of the 4-0 thumping of Cadiz this weekend.
After failing to pip La Blaugrana to the signature of Raphinha, Chelsea moved to strike a deal for Raheem Sterling, and the ex-Manchester City man has made a bright start to life at Chelsea.
Sterling has three goals and one assist to boast from six Premier League games for the Blues but could not prevent his side from suffering a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in Tuesday’s Champions League battle.
Thomas Tuchel‘s 100th match proved to be his final one in charge of Chelsea, who quickly sacked the German coach and replaced him with Brighton & Hove Albion boss Graham Potter.
Todd Boehly had allegedly also sounded out Mauricio Pochettino and Ruben Amorim before hiring the 47-year-old, whose first game in charge will be Wednesday’s Champions League battle with Red Bull Salzburg.