Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani has admitted that selling Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha this summer was ‘important’ for the club because of the money raised and as an advert for targets of their own.
Radrizzani is realistic in that Leeds are unable to compete for trophies with elite clubs like Manchester City and Barcelona, who agreed deals for Phillips and Raphinha respectively worth up to a combined £97m. But they can be attractive to players who have ambitions to go to those clubs.
Ultimately, Leeds will still benefit from being able to sign good players, even if they may not stick around for very long – they will more than treble their investment in Raphinha only two years after signing him from Rennes. The longer-term plan remains, however, to keep hold of players longer.
“These two deals, Raphinha and Phillips, are important, not only to give us the opportunity to buy but also to be perceived by other talented players as a destination before they go to the big club,” Radrizzani told The Athletic.
“That’s what we need to be now, I think. The fact you can come here, play for two or three years and go to [Real] Madrid or Barcelona or Manchester City, that is something to be proud of. We need to be realistic. We cannot be at that level.
“But over time we will have to be better at keeping some players. This is not a forever strategy. In the medium to long term, we will be able to maintain some of the talent. We don’t want to sell our talent every time.”
Charles De Ketelaere could have been another coup for Leeds, but the Belgian opted to join AC Milan. Before making that decision, Radrizzani insists was 50/50 over choosing Leeds instead.
“He was our icing on the cake, the special player, but we were competing with AC Milan. They won the title, they have the Champions League,” the Leeds owner explained.
“The fact that he was watching our documentary [on Prime Video] and was 50-50 about Milan or Leeds for a period makes me proud that we are in the right direction. Maybe I should have gone to Belgium 10 days (earlier) to close the deal. We had a period when I knew Milan were sleeping because of the change of ownership and I hesitated. We were agreed with Bruges on €40m.”
Leeds have still brought in five first-team signings since surviving Premier League relegation at the end of last season. And even with Phillips and Raphinha willingly sold, Radrizzani insists that Jack Harrison, subject of Newcastle interest, will not be leaving this summer.
“Absolutely not. There is no way. Jack stays here,” he said.