Barcelona are said to be “increasingly confident” of adding Philippe Coutinho despite Liverpool’s insistence he is not for sale.
[ MORE: Coutinho agrees deal with Barca? ]
Coutinho, 25, has become the main man at Anfield over the past season and although Jurgen Klopp has reaffirmed the Brazilian playmaker is not going anywhere, Sky Sports in the UK is reporting that Barca still believe a deal can be done.
The Spanish giants are said to be readying a bid of $116 million for Coutinho to test Liverpool’s resolve after an earlier bid was reportedly turned down, while reports in Spain suggest that Coutinho has already agreed personal terms with Barca over a move.
Barcelona’s push for Coutinho could suggest that Neymar’s potential world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain is edging closer, but where could Coutinho fit in at the Nou Camp?
He would be perfect as a playmaker in Ernesto Valverde’s team and with Andres Iniesta no spring chicken, Barca need to look at filling his considerable shoes long-term. Coutinho excelled last season in the PL, scoring 13 goals and adding seven assists as he battled back from a mid-season injury to help the Reds return to the UEFA Champions League.
Coutinho can either star in a central playmaking role or could be a direct replacement for Neymar if he was to leave for PSG this summer.
Just imagine Coutinho threading through passes to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez with the trio jinxing around defenders. Ahem, stop drooling.
Yet Liverpool’s stance remains clear: he is going nowhere. Klopp spoke about his future last week and confirmed he had a word with Coutinho during preseason but wouldn’t reveal the details of the chat.
Coutinho only sign a new new five-year contract in January but such have been the quality of his performances in setting the tempo of their play and delivering exceptional set pieces, plus scoring stunning long-range goals, the biggest teams on the planet are often linked with the former Inter Milan and Espanyol star.
Turning down Barcelona would be tough for any player and if the Catalan club do offer over $100 million for Coutinho then Liverpool will perhaps have to pay serious attention. When they sold Luis Suarez to Barca in 2014 there were extenuating circumstances around the deal, but Coutinho is about to enter his prime and could be the leader of Liverpool’s trophy push for many years.
If he is sold then it says plenty about their ambition to re-join Europe’s elite and would be a hammer blow for Klopp who has already struggled in the transfer market this summer as top targets Virgil Van Dijk and Naby Keita have yet to arrive with both valued at over $80 million by their respective clubs.
Coutinho certainly has the talent to be a star for Barcelona but the Brazilian leaving Anfield would be one of the biggest shocks of the summer. That said, does anything really surprise us anymore in this crazy transfer market?