Leeds moved into the top half of the Premier League with a tenth win of the season thanks to a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Elland Road, with Raphinha shining once again.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side took the lead after just three minutes after a high press saw them win the ball back quickly before Jack Harrison smashed the ball past the goalkeeper via a deflection off Gary Cahill.
Leeds dominated the ball and the game from there on in and secured a second goal in the second half as Raphinha raced through on goal and saw his shot saved by Vicente Guaita, only for Patrick Bamford to tap in the rebound and seal the three points.
It was a top all round performance from the Yorkshire side, who moved into the top half with a victory.
It was once again the performance of the Brazilian summer signing from Rennes that caught the eye though, as he stood out among his peers as the best player on the pitch once again.
His intensity on and off the ball caused Palace problems all night, while his pace, agility and skill is what Leeds relied on a lot throughout the night. A ridiculous bit of skill in the first half completely embarrassed Gary Cahill and caused the former Premier League and Champions League winner to drag him to the ground and be booked.
A £17m signing from Ligue 1, Raphinha has made an instant impact in the Premier League and many fans are wondering how some of the top clubs were scouring the French league and failed to take a look at him.
In fact, so were Leeds’ players themselves as Patrick Bamford revealed in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.
“Raphinha is brilliant. To be honest he’s been a steal for Leeds, I’m surprised. As soon as he came in, we saw him in training, you know sometimes with players whether they’re good or top class, and he really was. He stood out straight away, so I’m surprised that bigger teams, more established Premier League teams I should say, haven’t taken a punt on him because he really is something special and he’s still young.”
When you take into consideration that Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Ligue 1 just a year prior for £72m and that Manchester United were pursuing Jadon Sancho for the best part of a year since they both needed a right winger, it’s crazy to think neither of them came across the 24-year-old.
If they did and they passed up on the opportunity to sign him then you have to question their scouting departments considering how well he has taken to England’s top flight.
As for Leeds, they seem to have settled a bit more defensively from earlier in the season with their man to man marking all over the pitch. They’ve learnt to manage games a bit more, especially late on and are picking up points regularly.
They’ve scored 38 goals this season but they’ve also conceded the same amount and with a few more tweaks defensively, including cutting out costly individual errors, they could be in with a shout of pushing further up the table in the final stretch of the season.
Raphinha is stealing the show right now and don’t be surprised to see a few bigger clubs taking a closer look at him come the summer transfer window.