Just in case you didn’t get your fill of transfer drama featuring Barcelona and a diminuitive Brazilian, here comes the Philippe Coutinho saga!
Neymar’s departure earlier this month left the Catalan club with a huge hole in their lineup that needs filling, and a load of cash in their wallets, just waiting to be spent. While not a direct replacement for the left winger, Coutinho would fit in as a possible Andrés Iniesta replacement as the graceful Spaniard finally begins to succumb to the ravages of age.
The problem is that Coutinho’s current club, Liverpool, has no intention of selling the 25-year-old midfield spark plug. Time and time again, the club’s board and its manager, Jurgen Klopp, have insisted that Coutinho is not for sale. Barca has reportedly had two offers rejected, one for around $93 M and another for upwards of $115 M.
On Friday, however, things heated up, as Sky Sports reported that Coutinho had handed Liverpool a transfer request. Just minutes later, it was reported that the request was denied by Liverpool. Liverpool then released a statement saying that “no offers for Philippe will be considered.”
Liverpool has a serious decision to make regarding Coutinho, they could keep him and have a disgruntled star take the field or they can grant him his wish and keep the locker room in tact. Liverpool has had a bad history of parting ways with players on bad terms and are cautious of losing another star player to Barca as they did in 2014, when Luis Suárez left.
Whether this is a hardball negotiation technique from the Reds, or whether this is a legit stance, one thing is for sure: Barca is running out of time to replace Neymar. The problem for the blaugrana is that every club knows that they are currently loaded, and Neymar’s massive transfer fee is already having an impact on the transfer market; Barcelona’s other big attempt, for Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembélé, will likely run them over $130 million, a crazy fee for a relatively unproven 20-year-old.
If Barcelona were to miss out on Coutinho, the Independent is reporting that they would set their sites on another Premier League star: Tottenham’s midfielder Christian Eriksen. They have already began plotting in the event that they have to look elsewhere but there’s no guarantee that snatching Eriksen will be any easier; Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is notoriously difficult to negotiate with. Either way, Barcelona needs new blood if they’re to compete with the big boys of Europe, never mind their hated rivals Real Madrid.