Klopp: No change in Coutinho’s Liverpool future

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says there has been no change regarding the future of Philippe Coutinho, who continues to be pusued by Barcelona.

The Brazil star submitted a transfer request last Friday, just hours after a statement from Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group made it clear they will not entertain any offers for the player.

Liverpool 16/1 to end their title hoodoo

Coutinho missed Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Watford with a back injury and will not be involved in Tuesday’s Champions League play-off first leg with Hoffenheim due to the problem.

Klopp stated at the weekend the 25-year-old’s uncertain future was not a distraction, but suggested the final decision on whether he will stay at the club could be out of his hands.

However, speaking ahead of the clash at the Rhein-Neckar Arena, Klopp stressed there has been no development to the saga.

“Nothing has changed in the last few days, not on the one side or the other side,” he said.

“He’s not available for us at the moment so that’s the main issue. He cannot play for Liverpool at this moment and it’s quite a blow for us.

“But we’ve known about it for a few days so we can prepare, like we have to prepare without Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge who is really close, two more sessions and he’ll be available for the weekend.

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“The best thing would be for this team to stay together for four, five years, although I know it’s quite naive to say things like that.

“I really understand that everyone’s interested in this but I can’t say that I’m really thinking about it at this moment.

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“I didn’t think on the way to this press conference, ‘what can I say if they ask?’. I’ve said everything about it that I can say. I have no other answers.”

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Coutinho left out of Liverpool’s Champions League squad amid Barcelona interest

Philippe Coutinho is a notable absentee from Liverpool’s 22-man squad to face Hoffenheim in a Champions League play-off on Tuesday.

The Brazilian forward continues to be heavily linked with a big-money move to Barcelona, with a transfer request handed in at Anfield in an effort to force the issue.

Barca 11/2 with dabblebet to win CL

Two bids from Camp Nou have already been knocked back for the 25-year-old, who is seen as the top choice to replace Neymar in Catalonia.

Barca have raised their offer from £72 million to £90m, but Liverpool remain reluctant to part with a player they tied to fresh terms in January.

While Jurgen Klopp is keen to keep Coutinho on his books, he is not in a position to call on him at present.

Liverpool drew their 2017-18 Premier League opener 3-3 with Watford without their most creative influence, with a back problem the reason for his absence.

He will now play no part in the club’s first European outing of the season, as they seek to take a positive step towards the Champions League group stage.

EMBED ONLY Philippe Coutinho Barcelona

Daniel Sturridge is also missing from the travelling party heading to Germany, with the England international striker still nursing a thigh injury he picked up in a pre-season clash with Bayern Munich.

Liverpool squad to face Hoffenheim: Alexander-Arnold, Moreno, Lovren, Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can, Mane, Salah, Firmino, Kent, Solanke, Origi, Gomez, Klavan, Flanagan, Robertson, Matip, Grujic, Mignolet, Karius, Ward.

Barca money beats loyalty in Coutinho case

Klopp remained quiet on the issue of Coutinho’s future when quizzed on the matter following Saturday’s stalemate at Vicarage Road.

He told Sky Sports: “I cannot say a lot about it.

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“I am responsible for the whole team, all these players, and I need to focus on the players who are available. I have no influence on the players who aren’t available.”

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Inside Liverpool’s fight to keep Coutinho against hostile Barcelona transfer games

During three hours on the eve of their first competitive 90 minutes of 2017-18, Liverpool were already having to transition quickly with Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho chase intensifying.

Friday had begun with the club in an assertive position, through two emphatic sentences from their owners, Fenway Sports Group. 

Liverpool 25/1 to win Champions League

“We wish to offer clarity as regards our position on a possible transfer of Coutinho,” read a statement published on the official website at 10am, two days after a second offer totalling little over £90 million for the Brazil international was rejected.

HD Phil Coutinho

“The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool football club when the summer window closes.”

Those 44 words, with characters that could comfortably fit into two tweets, allowed Jurgen Klopp to start his press conference an hour later on the front foot. 

The ‘what’s happening with Phil?’ question had already been answered, and all the manager needed to do was reference FSG’s message – a mirror of his repeated quotes – when the playmaker became a topic. 

Coutinho not LFC’s biggest problem

Then just after noon, Sky Sports broke that Coutinho, who reported to Melwood as normal, had submitted a formal transfer request. That news perplexed those within the training complex as one hadn’t been received. 

Calls to the club to ascertain the veracity of the claim were thus met with a “not true” response, but it didn’t take long to conclude the 25-year-old’s camp had leaked their intentions in advance. 

Sporting director Michael Edwards was sent an email from Coutinho at around 1pm, spelling out the player’s will to breach the five-year contract sans a release clause he signed in January. 

GFX Philippe Coutinho not for sale

By then, a ‘close family member’ had already detailed Coutinho’s frustrations and, apart from the annoyance that the development came the day before their season opener at Watford that ended in a 3-3 draw, the Reds were vexed that they had to first read about the request before actually fielding it. 

Timing, quite clearly, is instructive throughout this whole situation.

The theory that Coutinho’s hand was forced by FSG’s statement is flawed. Their “definitive stance” was long communicated to both him and Barca, and was made public so there could be no confusion or speculation over where they stood.

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In Hong Kong, following the rejection of the first bid from the Catalans of £72m, Klopp informed Liverpool’s highest earner he would not be allowed to exit as their planning for the season, already at an intensive stage, involved him as a core element. In Munich, FSG president Mike Gordon made this clear again.

Liverpool’s position has never altered, and so to suggest the statement underpinned Coutinho’s action would be to ignore the full picture.

Ousmane Dembele

A day before the afternoon of back and forths at Melwood, Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund were coping with the destabilising effects of Barca turning a transfer target’s head. 

Ousmane Dembele had not reported for training, never provided any reason for his absence, and could not be reached by the Bundesliga side.

BVB revealed they had rebuffed an offer – thought to be around £90m – for the 20-year-old as it did “not match the extraordinary footballing and off-pitch status of the player” as well as “the current market situation”.

Barca, unwilling to pay top price and having struggled to twist Dortmund’s arm, put the onus on the Frenchman to break it.

Another example of similar tactics from Barcelona is Marco Verratti. However, in that transfer war, Paris Saint-Germain eventually outmanoeuvred them and ended up retaliating by activating Neymar’s €222m (£198m) release clause to set the current state of affairs in motion. 

Barca did not believe they could actually lose their Brazilian superstar and, knowing they could not negotiate for Liverpool’s, have pressured Coutinho – through a media offensive, ‘now-or-never’ threats and a swell of voices in his ear – into taking the antagonist route he wanted to avoid.

The player, of course, is not passive in all of this – it is his signature on the letter emailed through, it is his decision. 

Coutinho’s transfer request could have been made in West Kowloon, or in Rottach-Egern, or when he first returned to Merseyside following the pre-season tour, or after any of the multiple times Klopp insisted he is not on the market this summer, or when either proposal from Barca was rejected.

Gerrard slams Barca over Coutinho deal

It came, by design, as a distraction in a crucial period for Liverpool. Forcing your way out of a club has to be, well, forceful.

The transfer request will undoubtedly be painted as a result of the Brazilian’s long-standing unhappiness at Liverpool with the rewriting of history already in effect.

The suggestion that Klopp and Coutinho have had have a strained relationship for six months is not only a convenient time frame as it just excludes the latter’s happiness to ink fresh terms without an exit strategy, but also crumbles under the flimsiest investigation.

HD Jurgen Klopp Phil Coutinho

The manager has, on more than one occasion, told his star performer that he is the main catalyst to Liverpool’s rebirth as a force domestically and in Europe. He has unshackled him from the ‘all-on-my-shoulders’ responsibility that often clouded Coutinho’s decision-making on the pitch, and has geared the team around his creative strengths.

The former Inter man’s most productive campaigns have come under the German, who gave him positional freedom as a ‘wing 10’ and recruited two more forwards in Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke this summer to allow him to dictate their offensive game from deeper. 

Gerrard: Barca forcing Coutinho behaviour

Brazil’s coaching staff, meanwhile, have been in contact with Klopp over Liverpool’s assertive approach, which they wanted to replicate, as well as the 50-year-old’s use of Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to ascertain how to get the best out of both.

The former has become key to his national team as a consequence of his advancement at club level.

The idea that Coutinho has been substituted too much is also interesting given he was replaced 19 times in 29 Premier League starts last season – 64 per cent of the time – with Eden Hazard, for comparative purposes, brought off by Antonio Conte 69% of the time.

HD Phil Coutinho

The manufactured unhappiness, in contrast to Coutinho’s own words when he returned to Melwood for pre-season on July 11, is all part of the poker game.

The tactic of making it personal to Klopp is a miscalculated move, though, as it will only galvanise Liverpool’s owners.

Keeping the Rio-born talent is not an issue of pride for the manager – who has previously said what the Reds require is players “pushing the train, not jumping on a running train” – it is about the circumstances for the club. 

Having realised that being willing to overpay in this window is no guarantee of recruiting a priority target as was the case with RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, more money to spend with little time is not going to help Liverpool advance this season.

HD Phil Coutinho

They need to build on the core they already have, with difficult work still to be done in the market and adding to their to-buy list now would be unwise given their struggles.

“Maybe everybody has a price – in the right moment,” as Klopp explained. “In the wrong moment? No price.”

How hostile Coutinho chooses to go remains to be seen, but with a World Cup year on the horizon, Barca’s base offers laughable in the current climate plus too late, and Liverpool’s statement as strong as it could possibly be, he has no space to manipulate.

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For once around Anfield, there will be crossed fingers that Coutinho can’t find his way out of a tight spot.

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Valverde tight-lipped over Paulinho, Coutinho and Dembele

Ernesto Valverde remained tight-lipped over the potential arrivals of Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele as Barcelona prepare to face Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana first leg.

Since Neymar’s world-record €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain, Barca have been heavily linked with a host of players, with Coutinho and Dembele both reportedly attempting to force a switch to Camp Nou.

Barcelona 5/1 to win Champions League

Former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho has been long linked with a move to La Liga and those rumours intensified on Saturday with reports in China stating he had bid farewell to his Guangzhou Evergrande team-mates.

However, Valverde insisted links with the trio were mere speculation and he no idea whether they would join up with his squad before the transfer window closes.

“I don’t have any proof of anything. Lots of players’ names are mentioned for lots of clubs and it will be like that until August 31,” he told a media conference.

“For the moment there is nothing, or at least not that I’ve been informed of. I have a feeling that Paulinho will not be playing tomorrow night [against Madrid].

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona

“I have no knowledge of what players could come or of what goes on at other teams. I don’t worry about that as I have enough on my plate.

“The names that surface are not anyone’s stated requests.”

Coutinho not Liverpool’s biggest problem

On Neymar’s departure Valverde revealed he only found out the Brazilian was on his way to Ligue 1 on the day he made his intentions public, but chose not to dwell on his exit.

“[I found out about it] the day he came to my office to tell me, which was the day it was made public,” he added.

“There had been a lot of talk and you could sense there was something as some players had commented something to me the week before, but I didn’t know for sure.

“The best way to replace him is to look forward, not back.”

After four pre-season wins – including one over Madrid – Barca get their competitive campaign underway against Los Blancos on Sunday, and Valverde is confident his illustrious squad of players are ready.

Zidane signs new Madrid deal

“The friendly game we played during the tour is a reference point but that’s all. Now it’s different, there is a title at stake and they want to win it as well,” he said.

“We will have to give our best to win, they will be two tough matches. We are focused on the game and whatever the talk is, we are only thinking about that.

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“We know how good Madrid are and they have a strong squad. They have just won the European Super Cup playing well but we just have to focus on ourselves.”

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Coutinho’s Barcelona transfer saga not on Klopp’s mind

Jurgen Klopp insists he will not become distracted by the transfer saga surrounding Philippe Coutinho, but suggested that the Liverpool star’s future could be out of his hands.

Barcelona have made two bids for the 25-year-old, most recently seeing an offer of €100 million rejected. 

Liverpool 25/1 to win Champions League

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group released a statement on Friday insisting they would not entertain offers for Coutinho, but a few hours later, the Brazil international submitted a transfer request.

Coutinho missed Liverpool’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Watford on Saturday due to a back injury, after which Klopp stressed his focus is on the players at his disposal but admitted he does not have final say on the former Inter man’s future.

“I cannot say a lot about it,” he told Sky Sports. “I am responsible for the whole team, all these players, and I need to focus on the players who are available. I have no influence on the players who aren’t available.

“I have to accept decisions from owners, that’s how it is, and sometimes from players, but for this moment I just have to concentrate on my team.”

Liverpool conceded an injury-time header from Miguel Britos to surrender the lead at Vicarage Road, although Klopp was angry that the goal was allowed to stand due to the Watford defender having scored from an offside position.

However, Hornets boss Marco Silva felt his players deserved a point from a match in which they twice lost a one-goal lead.

Coutinho isn’t Liverpool’s biggest problem

“I think it’s a fair result. We had a very good first half, a good intensity like I wanted,” he told BBC Sport.

“I didn’t like the first 25 minutes of the second half. We expected a good reaction from Liverpool but we needed to be better. We made mistakes. But we reacted well.

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“Our fans pushed our players on. We had some small injuries. We need to show this attitude and commitment in all our games.”

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Coutinho’s Barcelona begging shows money, not loyalty, reigns supreme in football


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Just seven months ago, Philippe Coutinho committed his future to Liverpool until 2022 and enthused: “I signed this contract to stay here for a few more years because it’s a great honour for me.

“It gives me great happiness because I was welcomed here with open arms by everyone at the club and the supporters right from my first day. I am very thankful to this football club for everything.”

What he forgot to add, though, was: “However, I’ll be off in the summer if Barcelona will have me.”

Barca 5/1 to win the Champions League

Coutinho is considered one of football’s nice guys: he is courteous, respectful and rarely gets into any trouble on or off the pitch.

Yet when push came to shove in the battle between Liverpool and Barcelona for his services, he’s thrown his own club under the bus.

Philippe Coutinho PS

The news that the Brazilian had emailed in his transfer request came just hours after the club’s owners had publicly stated the player would not be sold for any price.

Remember, too, that manager Jurgen Klopp had also repeatedly stated that his best player was not for sale and that Liverpool were “not a selling club”.

Coutinho hands in transfer request

Of course, anyone familiar with the way the game works winced as soon as those words came out of the German’s mouth.

In football, contracts are now as meaningless as badge-kissing and Financial Fair Play. Only size matters and when the big clubs put big money on the table, players’ heads are inevitably turned.

In the current climate, every club is a selling club.

Barcelona themselves are only desperately trying to sign Coutinho because they lost their own Brazilian wizard by underestimating the size of PSG’s ambition – and Neymar’s greed.

Only this week, Tottenham’s Danny Rose gave a wonderfully rare insight into the mentality of the modern footballer when he declared: “I know my worth and I will make sure I get what I am worth. I am not playing as well as I have done not to get paid what I think I am worth.

“In any walk of life, if you think you are worth a certain amount, why settle for less? I am not that person.”

Coutinho clearly isn’t that person either. Liverpool made him their highest-paid player in January but he wants more.

RUMOURS: Barca to raise Dembele offer

Barcelona cannot only offer him more money but there’s also the sun, the sea and the chance to play with Lionel Messi.
 
It’s a hugely attractive proposition and many people would find it impossible to refuse, even if they were as revered and as well-remunerated as Coutinho is at Anfield.

However, the Selecao star has still done himself a disservice in the way he has handled this whole saga.

He maintained all along that he only wanted to leave if both clubs came to a cordial agreement. That was never going to happen.

Coutinho was integral to everything Liverpool wanted to do on the field and how they wanted to be perceived off it.

Philippe Coutinho Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

As Klopp himself said in January, “We have total belief in our project, but when a player of Phil’s calibre and status commits for this length of time it shows that our faith is shared throughout the game.

“He knows he can fulfil his dreams and ambitions here at Liverpool. This is a big statement.”

That statement has now been completely undermined by Coutinho – and his advisors – deciding just seven months later that a move to Camp Nou would be preferable to remaining on Merseyside.

He said he only wanted to join Barcelona if both clubs agreed on a deal but the bottom line was he wants to go to Catalunya – and always has done.

Solanke & the young stars to watch in 2017-18

Consequently, he should not have said he wanted to stay at Liverpool if he had no intention of doing so if Barcelona made an offer, which has always been a probability.

He should have just spared Liverpool a lot of problems by admitting as much and asked for a transfer after the first contact with the Catalans – not less than 24 hours before their Premier League opener at Watford.

Now the Reds must decide whether to keep an unhappy player or accept the money and somehow try to find a world-class replacement in the three remaining weeks of the transfer window.

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Coutinho said he was “grateful” for everything that Liverpool had done for him. He has a very funny way of showing it.

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Betting Special: Get a huge 6/4 on Philippe Coutinho joining Barcelona

Paris Saint-Germain’s €222 million move for Neymar has left Barcelona looking a little light on the attacking front, despite still having the services of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to call upon.

The Catalan club have options of course including Gerard Deulofeu, but none of the current squad are at the level of the world’s most expensive player both in terms of skill and marketability and so they may look to the transfer market to bring in reinforcements.

One such target could be Liverpool’s Phillippe Coutinho, who has often dazzled Premier League defences with his trickery and playmaking prowess. Neymar may not have scored as many goals as the other two thirds of the MSN trio but his influence was often also in creating opportunities for them, something Coutinho is extremely effective at.

The attention of the Spanish club has seemingly forced the player into handing in a transfer request, despite the fact that Liverpool insist he is not for sale.

GFX STATS COUTINHO STATS

At the time of writing, the best price on Coutinho becoming a Barcelona player by the end of the current transfer window is 4/6 (1.67) showing that the bookmakers are keeping such a move onside.

However, dabblebet are offering 6/4 (2.50) on this transfer going through, a much more appealing price for those who believe the Catalan giants are set to replace one Brazilian with another this summer.

This market can be found under “Goal.com Specials” along with plenty of other topical markets including Neymar to win the 2018 Ballon d’Or at 9/2 (5.50), PSG to win the Champions League by 2020 at 2/1 (3.0) and many more.

Jurgen Klopp insists that Liverpool are not a selling club, but it might well be the case that if Barcelona came calling with an offer in excess of £100 million, their hand could be somewhat forced, especially as the player wants to leave as a result of the approach. The Reds have already seen the draw of the Camp Nou when Luis Suarez left Merseyside back in 2014.

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Brendan Rodgers, manager at the time, did everything he could to keep Suarez at Anfield but eventually the player got his wish and moved to Spain just six months after signing a new contract. 

While the Reds may have Champions League football back on the agenda this term, there is certainly a better chance of Barca being a force at Europe’s top table and that can be a powerful draw for any potential signings.

dabblebet make the 2015 winners a 5/1 (6.0) shot to wrestle back the crown from rivals Real Madrid, while Liverpool are available at 25/1 (26.0) ahead of a tricky looking qualification tie against Hoffenheim.

At 6/4 (2.50) and with plenty of time left in the transfer window for any deals to happen, this market is exepcted to prove extremely popular, especially at such a big price compared with the rest of the industry.

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Philippe Coutinho hands transfer request to Liverpool to force Barcelona move

Liverpool have rejected Philippe Coutinho’s transfer request as he seeks to push for a move to Barcelona.

The Brazil international directly communicated this desire to the Merseysiders via email on Friday following a strong statement from Fenway Sports Group (FSG) that his exit would not be sanctioned this summer.

Get Coutinho at a massive 6/4 to join Barca

HD Phil Coutinho

Barca saw two bids swiftly batted away for the 25-year-old, the last of which was tabled in midweek and totalled €100 million. 

Both proposals were accompanied with the message that he was not on the market at any price, a stance repeated on several occasions by Jurgen Klopp. 

LFC likely line-up v Watford

It was furthered with FSG’s definitive position that “no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool football club when the summer window closes”.

In response to that move from the owners, sporting director Michael Edwards was notified of the playmaker’s intentions in the afternoon.

HD Phil Coutinho

Liverpool had not originally expected Coutinho to agitate to leave given the player’s own wish to move to Camp Nou only if a deal could be agreed on amicable terms.

However, by lunch time on the eve of the club’s season opener at Watford, they were anticipating his request with some media outlets reporting he had already sent it through.

The Reds are not shifting from their position and insist they will turn down further approaches from Barca. 

Barcelona clear Neymar for PSG debut

“If FSG is saying something like this, then that’s the statement,” Klopp noted in his pre-match media briefing.

“I’ve said it already a few times, but maybe it’s not been 100% clear, but now you can read it – maybe that’s the difference!

“That’s the way it will go and there’s nothing else to say about this.”

Coutinho will not be available for selection at Vicarage Road due to a back injury, which will also make him a doubt for the first leg of the Champions League play-off against Hoffenheim on Tuesday.

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He signed a new five-year deal without a release clause in January, which has emboldened Liverpool’s attitude towards the situation.

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Barcelona mad to blow Neymar money on Coutinho when they need a new midfield


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“Come and join me at Barcelona!” That was Neymar’s message to Brazil team-mate Philippe Coutinho as he attempted to persuade his long-time friend to play with him at the Catalan club. But now, in an unexpected turn of events, the Liverpool forward could end up being his replacement at Camp Nou.

Barca are in the market for a new forward or two following Neymar’s €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain last week and the Blaugrana have targeted Coutinho along with Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele. Neither deal, however, is likely to be straightforward and with the prices being quoted, Barca are surely better off bringing in only one of the two.

12/1 for Neymar to be Champions League top scorer

In addition to having a big offer for Dembele turned down by BVB, Barcelona have also seen a €100m bid for Coutinho rejected by Liverpool. The Catalan club will need to up their offer significantly if they want to buy the 25-year-old, who had a spell in the city with Espanyol earlier in his career.

“Liverpool is not a club that has to sell players,” Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said on Thursday. “That is set in stone. So what they offer in the end doesn’t matter. “From a financial standpoint, there is no price limit to let him go. No price at which we are ready to give in.” He also added: “Today, no player on the planet is unsellable. But a transfer is also a question of timing and if you have the opportunity and the need to react to such a transfer.”

Coutinho stats

And that is the point. With over a week of August already gone and the Premier League season set to start this weekend, losing a player of Coutinho’s calibre at this late stage in the transfer window would be a disaster for Liverpool.

Barca are being destroyed – Laporta

At the same time, the Reds are well aware that Barcelona need to bring in at least one player following the surprise sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain last week – and also that the Catalans have €222m of fresh cash available from the Brazilian’s move to the Parc des Princes.

Naturally right-footed, Coutinho’s favoured position is on the left and he could occupy Neymar’s vacant slot at Barcelona. For Brazil, meanwhile, he plays on the right due to the presence of the new PSG player, while he can also operate in midfield.

It is possible that Barcelona see him as an heir to Andres Iniesta, who may well be playing his last season at the highest level. But while the Brazilian is fleet-footed and skilful, as he showed for the Reds in a deeper role towards the end of last season, the Catalans would be better off seeking a long-term replacement for Xavi (who left in 2015) first.

HD Coutinho Neymar

Ousmane Dembele Borussia Dortmund

Neymar’s sale has undoubtedly impacted the transfer market. Prior to his move, the world record fee was the €105m paid by Manchester United to Juventus last summer for Paul Pogba. Now, it looks like even Dembele (on the back of one strong season at Dortmund) will cost more than that.

Barca target Dembele misses Dortmund training

The France winger is 20, however, with more potential to improve and more resale value than Coutinho, who at a potential €150m looks too expensive – even with all that money Barca have at their disposal.

Spending all of the €222m and more on two forwards would only solve one problem, as well, and it would be wiser for Barca to address their issues in midfield, which was their main priority at the start of the summer as they pursued PSG’s Marco Verratti.

That proved impossible in the end, but Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri fits the bill as an alternative, a player who can pull the strings in a Xavi role. And that is the kind of player Barca should be targeting.

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In the meantime, Dembele and Deulofeu would provide sufficient support to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack, along with Rafinha and Paco Alcacer, so there really is no need for Coutinho as well.

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