While it was unclear if Ousmane Dembele would extend his contract with Barcelona this past summer, the club was adamant about adding a new winger anyway. After considering a number of possibilities, the Blaugrana settled on either Raphinha or Antony to reinforce their wide attacking unit.
The transfer of Raphinha to Chelsea had been agreed on June 28 after negotiations with Leeds. The deal would have reportedly included the Blues paying £55 million for the Brazil winger, as reported by The Telegraph. However, his refusal to move to Stamford Bridge was communicated to Leeds officials.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian understood that Barcelona were interested in him, and he made it their mission to sign him. Therefore, Leeds agreed to sell him to the Blaugrana on July 13. A larger portion of the difference had to be made up via installment payments and incentives, making it less appealing than Chelsea's offer. Almost immediately, the 25-year-old eventually agreed to terms.
Why Barcelona rejected Antony for Raphinha
Barcelona had reportedly planned to acquire Antony instead of Raphinha to bolster their winger options, as reported by the Catalan tabloid Sport. Jordi Cruyff, who serves as the Spaniards' consultant, saw the right winger play many times when he was at Ajax last season and was impressed by his performance.
They had several internal debates but ultimately decided to pursue the Premier League star. The report adds that there were several primary reasons for this. One is that, unlike his now United counterpart, Raphinha seems to be a more well-rounded athlete.
Raphinha, who is three years older than Antony, played for Leeds in the Premier League. The latter, on the other hand, had never played in a European league outsideof the top five until his debut under Erik Ten Hag.
Moreover, the Blaugrana's upper management felt that Raphinha would blend in better with the team's dynamic than Antony. Xavi definitely saw a tactical benefit in having Raphinha rather than Antony on the right flank, despite the fact that both players are comfortable there.
The third and last factor for the decision was his productivity. Even while he doesn't always go back to check on things, when he does, he does it with great enthusiasm. In comparison, Antony is believed to have some serious flaws in his defensive play.