Liverpool, so far, are holding firm on the idea that Philippe Coutinho is not for sale, though Barcelona seems to know something the Anfield club does not.
Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol says Coutinho would like to join Barcelona, and it’s the “only way” he’d leave Liverpool. He also would only leave if the deal could be done “amicably.”
Barca president Josep-Maria Bartomeu said the club will spend the approximate $262 million Neymar exit fee “sensibly, strictly, and wisely,” and Solhekol says the Barca president remains furious with Paris Saint-Germain and the other Middle East- and Russia-bolstered clubs.
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In that sense, Barcelona has a bit of a kinship with Liverpool, adding to the intrigue of a potential move. Jurgen Klopp would be very angry if the Reds relented and sold Coutinho.
Meanwhile, Solhekol took to Twitter to say that Klopp’s former club, Borussia Dortmund, also faces temptation via Neymar’s move, with BVB star Ousmane Dembele also desiring a move to Barca and an anticipated offer of $117 million.
Liverpool already shot down a Coutinho bid of around $88 million, and Coutinho has a bigger body of work but is five years older than Dembele (who is more of a winger and has better numbers relative to age). The BVB man had an assist as Dortmund fell to Bayern in penalty kicks after 120 minutes of the Bayern Super Cup this weekend, and had 10 goals and 21 assists in all competitions last season.
Coutinho had yet to post a season as statistically significant in assists, and it’s probably fair to say that Dembele is worth more on the market if Liverpool supporters are expecting as big a haul for their Brazilian star (should the Reds actually sell).
Liverpool could resist the urge to sell for competitive reasons, though it’d be wise to see what’s on the market in terms of potential replacements (Consider that Gabriel Jesus‘ value went from $4 million to $40 million to who knows what it would be right now). In the micro sense, it’s hard to put a number on Coutinho. In the macro, and looking at Dembele in comparison, the Reds could reload in a big way.
Let’s put it this way: If Barca used the Neymar fee to buy Coutinho and Dembele, many would think the Blaugranas will have come to close to winning the exchange, or at least breaking even.