Barcelona claim that Liverpool’s asking price was the reason the club couldn’t sign Philippe Coutinho this summer.
At a press conference discussing the club’s summer transfer successes and failures, Barcelona director Albert Soler stated Liverpool were asking for upwards of $237 million for the Brazilian playmaker, a price Barcelona weren’t willing to pay.
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Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool announced their intentions to hold on to Coutinho, despite the player submitting a transfer request in August to try and force a move to Spain.
“The idea of spending 100 million euros on a player just a few years ago would have been madness but it seems that this is the way things are going,” Soler said in the press conference. “At one time, Barcelona were market leaders but now prices are being dictated by hedge funds. Whole countries are now the principal agents in the market. Everything’s changed. We decided not to put the club’s economic status and heritage at risk.
“It’s reached the stage where one club paid 50 million for a goalkeeper. We’re relieved that UEFA are opening investigations. We’re not going to enter into a market which is has gone way out of control – Liverpool were asking 200 million euros for Coutinho.”
The quotes above are a bit of a shot at Paris Saint-Germain – which is owned by the investment arm of the Qatari government.
However, it’s a bit rich for Soler to say he didn’t want to put the club’s economic status at risk after receiving a record $263 million for Neymar and then going out and spending an initial $124.5 million on Ousmane Dembele.
Now, Liverpool face the challenge of integrating Coutinho back into the squad. Coutinho has not played for Liverpool since submitting his transfer request on August 11, supposedly missing time with a back injury. But he scored for Brazil on Thursday in its 2-0 win over Ecuador in World Cup qualifying.
There are reports that Coutinho cried before the game on the news that he’d be staying at Liverpool and if true, it may take more than just motivation from the coach and his teammates for Coutinho to discover his club form from last season.