Coutinho shines in new role and five lessons from Brazil’s win over Ecuador

The Liverpool playmaker was the best player on the pitch from a more withdrawn role, while Neymar slipped back into bad habits against the Tricolor

Just as in Tite’s very first game as Brazil coach, the Selecao proved too strong for Ecuador as they continued their relentless match towards the 2018 World Cup. Neymar and his men defeated Ecuador 2-0 in a game that was always under control, even if the goals took their time in arriving. 

Now not only have Brazil already secured their place at Russia, but with nine straight qualifying wins they are guaranteed to finish top of the pile amongst their South American peers. 


READ MORE: 
Coutinho fit for Brazil | 5 great Brazil-Ecuador clashes | Brazil’s WCQ campaign so far


Tite came up against a determined Ecuador side, that gave little away early on. But the coach mixed up his side, changed his tactics and Philippe Coutinho pulled through to inspire the Brazilian victory, also scoring the second goal of the evening. The other strike came from Paulinho, the new-found goal machine of this Selecao. 

Brasil Global Tour takes you through the key lessons from Thursday’s battling win…


COUTINHO, NEW POSITION BUT SAME OLD BRILLIANCE


Willian Coutinho Brazil Ecuador Eliminatorias 2018 31082017

Tite had made it clear that he wanted Philippe Coutinho to play in a different role when he pulled on the Brazil shirt. In the friendlies against Argentina and Australia the coach took the opportunity to try the Liverpool man in a more withdrawn position, the role usually played by Renato Augusto. And while his future might not be certain on the other side of the world, here Coutinho looked supremely comfortable pulling the strings for his nation.

Coutinho managed to turn the course of the game, moving with freedom and creating space and play wherever he set foot. A stunning goal following neat interplay with Gabriel Jesus was richly deserved, and put Brazil out of sight against Ecuador at 2-0 up. Whether he plays in Liverpool or Barcelona this season, he will remain indispensable for Brazil.


NEYMAR AGAINST THE WORLD


Neymar Brazil Ecuador Eliminatorias 2018 31082017

Ever since Tite took the reins of the Selecao, Neymar has tempered his individualist instincts to become much more of a team player. Thursday’s game, however, the first since his world-record move to PSG, saw the most expensive player in the world suffer a relapse into his selfish ways. Neymar held onto the ball to long against Ecuador and looked to go it alone in the opposition area, overlooking Luan in a golden chance in favour of trying for goal himself. It was an off-night for the No. 10, who has been fantastic for his nation since teaming up with Tite.


FROM 4-1-4-1 TO 4-2-3-1


Philippe Coutinho Paulinho Brazil Ecuador Eliminatorias 2018 31082017

With the same team picked a year ago in his Selecao debut, Tite opted for the same formation, which has helped Brazil guarantee their place at the next World Cup. This time around it did not work as planned, but the coach proved he has a trick or two up his sleeve. For the second half, seeing that play was not flowing, Tite switched from 4-1-4-1 to 4-2-3-1 and changed Brazil’s fortunes. The spaces suddenly opened up and yet another victory was on the way for the unbeatable Selecao.


ANOTHER RECORD


Brazil Ecuador Eliminatorias 2018 31082017

Ever since the coach took over the bruised Selecao from Dunga, they have been setting records with impressive consistency. Thursday was no exception. With three games to go in these qualifiers, the already-qualified Brazil have recorded their best campaign in the history of the competition. The team now sit on 36 points, beating the 34 set in 2006 and 2010. They are also the only team to have managed nine straight victories in CONMEBOL qualifiers.


PAULINHO THE GOAL MACHINE


Paulinho Brazil Ecuador Eliminatorias 2018 31082017

Not even the lengthy break in qualifying was capable of slowing down Paulinho in front of goal. The new Barcelona signing hit his 10th in Brazil colours and cemented his position as the highest-scoring defensive midfielder in Canarinho history. When Brazil most needed him, he was there to turn home a corner and open up the game in his side’s favour.

Paulinho returned to the Brazil ranks exactly a year ago, and has been unstoppable – hitting five goals and adding another three assists in just 10 games to make himself an undisputed part of the Selecao.

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Neymar reveals Coutinho’s ‘anguish’ as Liverpool refuse to sanction Barcelona transfer

Philippe Coutinho is struggling to come to terms with the “sadness” of Liverpool refusing his transfer to Barcelona, according to Brazil team-mate Neymar.

The Reds star was keen to move to Camp Nou,  handing in a transfer request in August ahead of the Premier League season beginning in order to try and force the situation.

Barcelona remain determined to add Coutinho to their squad but Liverpool have no intention in selling the 25-year-old, despite him making it clear to those at the club that he wants to leave.

Blaugrana 4/5 to beat Juve

Coutinho missed Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Arsenal last weekend due to a back problem but featured as a substitute in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday, scoring his country’s second of the evening.

According to Neymar, who left Barcelona in a world record €222 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last month, suggested that Coutinho was unable to enjoy the occasion.

“Unfortunately, instead of being a happy time for him [Coutinho], for his family, it’s a moment of anguish, disappointment and sadness,” Neymar told ESPN FC.

“I like to see him happy because he is a team-mate and a friend that I’ve had for a long time.

“He was rewarded with a goal today, for his and our joy.”

Brazil coach Tite also spoke of Coutinho’s struggles following the World Cup qualifying win and the speculation surrounding the 25-year-old’s future, adding: “Of course it affects him.”

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Coutinho remains under contract at Anfield until 2022.

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Brazil 2 Ecuador 0: Barca target Coutinho and Paulinho inspire win

Philippe Coutinho and potential Barcelona team-mate Paulinho inspired Brazil to victory over Ecuador in Porto Alegre.

Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho came off the bench and scored as Brazil defeated Ecuador 2-0 to seal their position as winners of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying section.

Coutinho was named on the bench for Thursday’s qualifier in Porto Alegre having not played for Liverpool this season due to a back problem and illness amid ongoing speculation linking him with Barca.

But the Liverpool star put uncertainty surrounding his future aside to double Brazil’s lead with 14 minutes remaining after a stunning one-two with team-mate Gabriel Jesus.

It was a sight to excite Barca fans after new signing Paulinho broke Ecuador’s stubborn resistance seven minutes earlier – his fourth goal in four internationals.

Already assured of their spot at the World Cup in Russia next year, Brazil cannot be caught atop the South American standings after moving 11 points clear of second-placed Colombia with three games remaining, while Ecuador are seventh and three points adrift of the play-off position.

There were no surprises in Brazil’s starting XI following their 4-0 friendly rout of Australia in June as the world’s most expensive player Neymar headlined Tite’s line-up, which also included Jesus, Willian, Casemiro, Marcelo and Dani Alves, who did not play in March’s 3-0 qualifying win at home to Paraguay.

Ecuador – who lost 2-0 to Colombia in their most recent qualifier – named the likes of Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia, Christian Noboa and Gabriel Achilier.

The first half did not reach any real heights as Brazil – devoid of ideas and synergy – struggled against a resolute Ecuador side.

Barcelona recruit Paulinho tried his luck early, while Chelsea attacker Willian went close inside 10 minutes.

Manchester City star Jesus almost opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark after outmuscling his opponent en route to goal but Ecuador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera was up to the task, using a strong hand to push the ball away for a corner.

Jesus came close again 11 minutes into the second half after being picked out by Alves with a sublime cross but his close-range header was saved.

The 20-year-old forward was thwarted minutes later as Ecuador defender Robert Arboleda glanced a header away before Jesus could head home the opener.

Seeking a goal, Tite introduced Coutinho before the hour-mark – his first playing time of the 2017-18 season – but it was his potential Barca team-mate Paulinho who broke the deadlock.

Paulinho lashed home the opener from just outside the six-yard box with 20 minutes remaining following Willian’s corner.

Brazil could smell blood as Banguera denied Willian and Neymar with back-to-back saves only moments later.

But Banguera was unable to deny Coutinho, who combined with Jesus before side-footing into the net in the 76th minute.

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Brazil coach tells Coutinho to choose happiness amid Barcelona pursuit

Brazil coach Tite has told Philippe Coutinho to go where he will be happy amid Barcelona’s ongoing interest in the Liverpool attacker.

Coutinho continues to be heavily linked with a move to Spanish giants Barca ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline in the Premier League, though La Liga clubs have an extra day to complete their business.

Brazil 13/2 to win World Cup

The Brazil international – subject of three failed bids from Barcelona after handing in a transfer request – is yet to feature for Liverpool this season due to a back injury and illness.

As Coutinho and CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying leaders Brazil prepare to face Ecuador on Thursday, head coach Tite provided an update on the attacking midfielder.

“I can’t assess Coutinho in financial terms,” Tite told reporters. “My thing is in the pitch, that’s my concern. We have different realities.

HD Phil Coutinho

“But I’ve talked to Coutinho, told him the same I’ve told you: go where you feel happy. If it’s Liverpool, I’ll be ok. If it’s another one, I’ll be ok.

“I have to know my limits. I don’t have to have opinion about everything. I don’t want to be a showman, to be talking about everything. I’m very discreet in this kind of things. And fair. And justice is that he can be happy.

“I don’t know which club he’s going to. He’ll decide it. But the Brazilian squad won’t lose him.”

The 25-year-old is in line to feature in Brazil’s qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia, despite his lack of playing time at Liverpool.

Back problems and a bout of illness are behind Coutinho’s Liverpool absence, though his doctor in Brazil contradicted this by claiming the player was suffering from stress brought about by uncertainty over his future.

Talking about Coutinho’s fitness, Tite said: “Coutinho was called up with 15 days of anticipation. We were aware that we are in a transfer window with all the chances of changes coming in. I have to pay attention to it.

“That’s a reality because it touches the emotional side, the player’s life, the routine of the clubs. And, at the same time, we have to look at the essence of the Brazil squad.

A player with the level and the quality of Philippe Coutinho, fit at that moment, had to be called. He had a problem. And the dimension of this injury, to know that our basis was the moment in which he arrived to the Brazilian squad. I have this responsibility of telling you this.

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“And the medical department made an assessment, a transition work, a contact from physician to physician from Liverpool, from staff to staff, I didn’t do that because I don’t speak English but we made it, so that we wouldn’t put a player at risk but also don’t lose him. Don’t lose a player with the level of Coutinho. He stays as an option.”

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Ferguson feels sympathy for Liverpool over Coutinho saga

Alex Ferguson has offered sympathy to old rivals Liverpool over the Philippe Coutinho transfer saga.

Coutinho has not featured for Liverpool competitively this season and handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force through a switch to Barcelona, although the Reds have rejected three bids for the playmaker – the latest coming in at £119million.

The 25-year-old is in line to feature in Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia over the coming week despite officially being ruled out of action for his club due to a back injury and a bout of illness.

Coutinho’s doctor in Brazil contradicted this by claiming the player was suffering from stress brought about by uncertainty over his future.

Following a transfer window where the likes of Neymar and Ousmane Dembele have secured mega money moves away from clubs where they were under long-term contracts, and with intrigue over the futures of stars such as Alexis Sanchez and Virgil van Dijk set to dominate Thursday’s deadline day, former Manchester United boss Ferguson believes firm management of key players is more important than ever.

“I think strong management is crucial in this situation. Part of your job as a coach also is to educate your players’ character so they have a responsibility to what they’re doing,” Ferguson said, speaking at the UEFA Elite Coaches Forum in Nyon.

“Obviously, in some cases, that is changing a bit. It’s disappointing because I’m sure that, in the case of Liverpool, they did a very good job in making Coutinho the player he is today.

“So, it’s a bit disappointing but you have to deal with it and the transfer window doesn’t help in that situation.

“If it closed in July, Coutinho would have continued playing and it would have been gone. The matter would have been over.

“The recommendation we look at is to close the window before the season starts, so everyone knows which players they’ve got and aren’t waiting to see what the first results are going to be.”

One manager who has certainly impressed Ferguson with his strength of leadership is current United manager Jose Mourinho.

The former Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss collected the EFL Cup and Europa League during his first season at Old Trafford and Ferguson was particularly impressed by his focus during the gruelling slog of the latter competition, with Champions League qualification up for grabs.

“I think that the Europa League has taken on arms and legs since they made the decision to let the winner enter the Champions League,” he said.

“Jose seized on that and he was playing his best team in every round, right from the start. He deserved to win it because his attitude was first class.

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“Once Jose realised he wasn’t going to win the league back home in England, his intent of winning the Europa League became greater and greater as each round came along. That was a great achievement.”

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Stress behind Coutinho’s Liverpool absence, doctor claims

Philippe Coutinho’s early season absence at Liverpool was down to stress amid speculation over a big-money move to Barcelona, according to the player’s doctor in Brazil.

Coutinho has not featured for Liverpool competitively this term and handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force through a switch to Camp Nou, although Liverpool are understood to have rejected three bids for the playmaker – the latest coming in at £119 million.

Liverpool 10/1 to win PL

The official reason for the 25-year-old’s absence was a back injury initially, before illness kept him away from last week’s resounding victories over Hoffenheim and Arsenal.

Coutinho still joined up with Brazil’s national team for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia on August 31 and September 5 respectively and trained separately from his team-mates on Monday.

Amid reports in Brazil that he will be ready to play, Michael Simoni – Fluminense’s medical director – spoke to the midfielder and concluded his long-time friend was suffering with an “emotional issue manifesting itself as back pain”.

HD Phil Coutinho

“Coutinho’s back problem? He is okay now. The back problem was a matter of stress, it was something emotional,” Simoni told Esporte after meeting with Coutinho in Rio.

“The uncertainty about his future led him to feeling stressed. Everything is solved now.

“Coutinho and I have been friends for years. I always treat his medical cases. All he needed was someone to give him a pep talk.”

Speaking at the presentation of club-record signing Ousmane Dembele on Monday, Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez said the club hoped to make another signing this week, further stoking speculation over Coutinho.

“He’s a bit anxious about the possibility of changing club,” Simoni said in a separate interview with ESPN Brasil. “Of course, we talked about this possible transfer, about the things that are in his heart right now.

“His back pains, in my opinion, are explained by this anxiety. Muscular tension normally does that.

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“He can show up to train normally. I didn’t do a clinical exam, he came to chat, he came to talk to a friend.”

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WATCH: Philippe Coutinho fit for Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers

The Liverpool man appears to have recovered from injury, leaving the Selecao able to select from their original 23 for the first time in the campaign

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is expected to be fit for Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers this week, ensuring coach Tite has his full quota of 23 players available.

Coutinho is yet to make an appearance for his club side this season, left out of the squad with a back injury after his future was left up in the air following a number of bids from Spanish club Barcelona.


READ MORE: 
Brazil top FIFA rankings  | Brazilians making transfer moves | Brazil’s WCQ campaign so far


Coach Jurgen Klopp said last week that he expected Coutinho to join up with the Brazil squad in Porto Alegre this week, citing FIFA regulations that confederation medical staff have the right to assess the fitness of those called up to represent their country.

A number of the Brazil squad have already arrived in Porto Alegre ahead of Thursday’s clash with Ecuador, and a fit Coutinho is expected to join them shortly.

It will mark the first occasion during Brazil’s qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 that no member of the original 23-man squad was forced to pull out through injury.

Tite e jogadores Brasil treino 21032017

Seven squads have been assembled for qualifiers since the tournament began – three were named by former coach Dunga, while four were selected by Tite – and on every occasion a late replacement was required.

Tite has led the Selecao to an unprecedented eight consecutive victories in World Cup qualifying since his June 2016 appointment.

Brazil host Ecuador on Thursday August 31 before travelling to Barranquilla to face Colombia on Tuesday September 5.

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Philippe Coutinho fit for Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers

The Liverpool man appears to have recovered from injury, leaving the Selecao able to select from their original 23 for the first time in the campaign

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is expected to be fit for Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers this week, ensuring coach Tite has his full quota of 23 players available.

Coutinho is yet to make an appearance for his club side this season, left out of the squad with a back injury after his future was left up in the air following a number of bids from Spanish club Barcelona.


READ MORE: 
Brazil top FIFA rankings  | Brazilians making transfer moves | Brazil’s WCQ campaign so far


Coach Jurgen Klopp said last week that he expected Coutinho to join up with the Brazil squad in Porto Alegre this week, citing FIFA regulations that confederation medical staff have the right to assess the fitness of those called up to represent their country.

A number of the Brazil squad have already arrived in Porto Alegre ahead of Thursday’s clash with Ecuador, and a fit Coutinho is expected to join them shortly.

It will mark the first occasion during Brazil’s qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 that no member of the original 23-man squad was forced to pull out through injury.

Tite e jogadores Brasil treino 21032017

Seven squads have been assembled for qualifiers since the tournament began – three were named by former coach Dunga, while four were selected by Tite – and on every occasion a late replacement was required.

Tite has led the Selecao to an unprecedented eight consecutive victories in World Cup qualifying since his June 2016 appointment.

Brazil host Ecuador on Thursday August 31 before travelling to Barranquilla to face Colombia on Tuesday September 5.

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What transfers could still happen before end of transfer window?

The 2017 summer transfer window has already seen a number of big-money moves, but there is room for more business before the transfer windows shut across Europe.

Brazilian sensation Neymar made a historic €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona and the Catalan outfit subsequently forked out €105m to Borussia Dortmund for the services of Ousmane Dembele.

With the transfer window set to close in a number of countries, Goal takes a look at the deals that could yet be sealed before Thursday’s deadline.


DIEGO COSTA


Diego Costa Chelsea

Diego Costa’s protracted exit from Chelsea sees the Spain international in exile in his native Brazil, refusing to set foot in London again. The striker is dead set on a return to Atletico Madrid and has been highly critical of his perceived treatment by Antonio Conte and the Blues.

While Costa is angling for a move to Atletico, he has plenty of admirers across Europe, with AC Milan among the list of suitors and Everton have also emerged as a possible – temporary – destination.


PHILIPPE COUTINHO


HD Phil Coutinho

Ever since Neymar’s move to PSG, Barcelona have intensified their focus on a number of new recruits and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is one of their main targets.

The La Liga outfit have had their efforts to land the Brazil international rebuffed and, despite the fact that Coutinho has made his desire to leave Anfield clear, he is no closer to a move to Catalunya.

Liverpool remain steadfast in their refusal to let the midfielder go, but Barca could theoretically change the Premier League club’s mind with the right offer, which would surely be well over the €100m mark.


KYLIAN MBAPPE


Kylian Mbappe Monaco 2017

After a sensational breakthrough season last year, Kylian Mbappe has earned plenty of admirers and he looks likely to leave Monaco in the coming days.

Paris Saint-Germain are among the frontrunners for Mbappe’s signature, with a number of the capital club’s players talking up the notion of a move, but the 18-year-old is also on the radar of a clutch of top European clubs.

Manchester City are keen and Zinedine Zidane made no secret of his desire to bring his compatriot to the Santiago Bernabeu. However, France boss Didier Deschamps has let slip that the teenager will move to another Ligue 1 club.


SERGE AURIER


Serge Aurier Angers PSG Coupe de France 27052017

Of all the teams challenging for Premier League glory, Tottenham have been the least active in the transfer market, but they have been heavily linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Serge Aurier.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has dismissed the idea of Aurier joining his side as a rumour, but the Argentine coach is definitely on the look-out for a right-back after losing Kyle Walker in a big-money move to Manchester City.

Ivory Coast international Aurier is also on the radar of Manchester United, but, with Jose Mourinho’s side off to a flying start, talk of a move to north London has been intensifying ahead of the transfer deadline.


ALEXIS SANCHEZ


Sergio Aguero Alexis Sanchez September 2014

Alexis Sanchez looks destined to leave Arsenal and, if he does not make his exit during this transfer window, the Chile international could potentially depart on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Sanchez has been linked with Bayern Munich, with Carlo Ancelotti admitting that he is a fan of the 28-year-old, but Manchester City appear to be a more likely destination for the former Barcelona forward.

Arsene Wenger has stressed that Sanchez wants to remain with the Gunners, but a reunion with Pep Guardiola is something that has certainly been on the agenda.


THOMAS LEMAR


Thomas Lemar Monaco

Monaco have been forced to deal with an exodus this summer, with the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Tiemoue Bakayoko all leaving the club for the Premier League. And the upheaval has not concluded either, with speculation still swirling around a number of their stars.

Thomas Lemar has been heavily linked with Arsenal and Manchester United, but Liverpool are closer to completing the signing. The Gunners had a €35m bid rejected, and the Reds have doubled that offer.

Indeed, with Arsene Wenger conceding that his club’s pursuit of the 21-year-old is over, the Reds are well primed to secure his services before the closure of the transfer window. 


DANNY DRINKWATER


Danny Drinkwater Leicester City

Chelsea are attempting to defend their Premier League crown without two players who played key roles in winning the title, with Nemanja Matic joining Manchester United and Diego Costa on the verge of a move to Atletico Madrid.

The Blues have already added reinforcements in the form of Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko, but Antonio Conte is eyeing up more additions as he looks to defend the title. Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater is one of those potential recruits and a move could be completed ahead of the closure of the transfer window.


JONNY EVANS


Jonny Evans West Brom

Pep Guardiola has already added Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy to his Manchester City squad, but the Catalan is still keen to bring in more defensive reinforcements.

West Brom captain – and former Manchester United defender – Jonny Evans is one particular target and, while the Baggies have rejected a bid from City for the 29-year-old, a move could yet materialise.

Tony Pulis has indicated that Evans is likely to stay at The Hawthorns and it remains to be seen whether the top brass at the Etihad are willing to sanction a bigger bid for the Northern Ireland international, but there is enough time for a deal to be struck that works for all parties.


VIRGIL VAN DIJK


Virgil van Dijk Southampton

Liverpool’s pursuit of Virgil van Dijk has resulted in a stand-off between the Dutch defender and his club Southampton, but a transfer could possibly occur before the summer transfer window shuts.

The Netherlands international has been vocal about his unhappiness with the manner in which the Saints have dealt with the proposed move, handing in a transfer request, but his new boss Mauricio Pellegrino says that he expects the 26-year-old to stay at St Mary’s.

Jurgen Klopp is also dealing with a want-away player in Philippe Coutinho, so he can perhaps sympathise with Southampton’s position, but the Reds have not given up all hope of coaxing Van Dijk away from the Saints.


ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Arsenal

As well as Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater, Chelsea are keen to bring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Stamford Bridge from rivals Arsenal as they look to defend their Premier League crown.

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The Blues will have to pay between £35m and £40m to the Gunners if they want to land the England international, who would provide competition for Victor Moses and versatility in midfield.

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Barcelona still trying to force through Coutinho deal

Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez has insisted that the club are still working on a deal for Philippe Coutinho but has ruled out signing Jean Seri.

Barca 13/2 for CL glory

The Liverpool midfielder has been on Barca’s radar throughout the summer, with the sale of Neymar to PSG accelerating their pursuit of the Brazil international.

The Reds have stood firm with their stance that their star man would not be sold, however, with Goal revealing on August 23 that they would again rebuff a potential fourth bid from the Catalans for the 25-year-old.

Indeed, Liverpool’s owners released a statement insisting that Coutinho would not be sold although that isn’t stopping the Liga giants from continuing their efforts to sign the former Inter man.

When asked about the club’s pursuit of Coutinho, Robert Fernandez told reporters: “We are negotiating with some players about the possibility of incorporating them into the team and we hope to reach an agreement to introduce a new player.

“We have been working for a long time on possibilities, maybe a player comes or maybe there are two, we have to wait because we are negotiating and we can find ourselves with a favourable framework to bring one more, or maybe two.

“Everyone knows what situation the market is in and what has happened, the teams know what our situation is but the fact that we have moved quickly helps us to reach a favourable situation.

“But without a [release] clause we are forced to into long and tense negotiations and there are times we could not go further. Uneasiness can exist but we know very well what we want and we will wait until the last moment.

“My intention is for another player to arrive, two if possible.”

When asked about the potential of Angel Di Maria joining from PSG, the Barca technical secretary continued: “I will not go into naming but I admit that the club is working on the possibility of bringing in new players.”

Barca had also been looking at signing Nice star Jean Seri although with talks having broken down, Ernesto Valverde’s side will not be looking to take their interest any further.

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Robert Fernandez added: “We hope to present another player this month. Seri is totally ruled out.”

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