Trusted reporter names Arsenal’s biggest summer regret

Leeds United’s Brazilian midfielder Raphinha Dias Belloli celebrates after scoring the first goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League soccer match between Brentford and Leeds United at Brentford Community Stadium in London on May 22, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking on the Que Golazo podcast ahead of the North London derby, Fabrizio Romano suggested Arsenal’s biggest regret since the summer transfer window was FC Barcelona winger Raphinha.

“Raphinha was the top priority,” Romano said. “I think the biggest regret in the market for Arsenal was Raphinha. They wanted him. Raphinha was really open to talking to Arsenal at one point.

With Leeds United avoiding relegation, Raphinha appeared to be in the market for a willing buyer.

A move to Barcelona was all but guaranteed should Leeds fall, as he had an affordable release clause in that scenario. But it initially looked like the La Liga club wouldn’t be able to afford it without this clause.

This opened the door for Chelsea and Arsenal, who both attempted to strike a deal. Then Barcelona found £55m from somewhere and Raphinha completed the move he had seemingly always wanted.

LEEDS, ENGLAND: Raphinha of Leeds United applauds the fans after their team lost in the Premier League match between Leeds United and Newcastle United at Elland Road on January 22, 2022. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND: Raphinha of Leeds United applauds the fans after their team lost in the Premier League match between Leeds United and Newcastle United at Elland Road on January 22, 2022. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

It’s not particularly damning for Arsenal that they missed out on the signing, as Barcelona have clearly always been Raphinha’s first-choice option.

Perhaps it feels like they could have acted more decisively earlier in the window, before Barcelona had time to act. Even then, Raphinha may have just stalled until he was sure the transfer wasn’t on the table.

Arsenal fans were arguably more frustrated with the lack of a move for an alternative winger, but the Gunners stuck to their guns and refused to sign on numbers grounds. Whether it will cost them remains to be seen.