Raphinha has made a huge impact at Leeds United and, as Emile Heskey tells HITC, the £17 million winger is exactly the kind of attacker opposition players hate to pit their wits against.
The furious reaction from Rennes supporters spoke volumes. After all, fans don’t often vent their fury all over social media if they are happy to see a player go.
Rennes obviously knew they had something special in the sprightly Brazilian wideman and, when reports emerged that he was set to swap Brittany for Britain, all hell broke loose on the other side of the Channel.
And, sure enough, Leeds’ gain is proving to be Rennes’ loss.
With Les Rouges et Noir failing to replicate the form that saw them qualify for the Champions League for the very first time last season, Marcelo Bielsa’s merry band of Duracell bunnies are taking English football by storm.
And they had Raphinha to thank for their first win at Goodison Park in 30 years on Sunday, the summer signing arrowing a brilliant winner into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
“He’s very direct, an exciting player,” former Liverpool, Leicester and England ace Heskey explains.
“He’s the sort of player that fans love because he gets you off your bum. He drives at defenders, commits them, he’s very sharp, very quick. He’s the sort of player you want in your team and the sort of player you don’t really want to be playing against.”
Raphinha shares a lot of similarities with the man he has replaced in Bielsa’s XI – the former Wolverhampton Wanderers speedster Helder Costa.
But, as he showed at Everton, Raphinha has something that is perhaps missing from Costa’s armoury – end product.
“He looks pretty similar (to the wingers Leeds already have). They must have a certain category of players and they all fall into one basket. He’s got a lot of energy, going forward and back, which you need in a Leeds side because they play one v one all over the park.
“He’s got that little fine edge, that little finishing touch that goes with that as well.”