The speculation linking Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho with a move to Barcelona has been heightened by his selection as a Pro Evolution Soccer cover star.
It has been revealed, by the man himself, that the 25-year-old playmaker will be the star attraction on the box of the Brazilian version of the popular simulator game.
Coutinho 6/4 to join Barcelona
Normally such a move would pass without too much attention, but it is the transfer talk currently being generated by Coutinho which makes this decision so intriguing.
Eu estou bem feliz e orgulhoso de ser capa do melhor jogo de futebol de todos os tempos! @officialpes#PES2018pic.twitter.com/itqZpeR0fM
— Philipe Coutinho (@Phil_Coutinho) August 8, 2017
PES developers Konami have strong ties to La Liga giants Barcelona, with a three-year deal to be a “premium partner” of the Camp Nou club signed in July 2016.
In the wake of that agreement, star turns in Catalonia have been chosen to grace the cover of the annual game updates.
‘Coutinho can’t say no to Barcelona’
Neymar was already the leading man for PES 2016 and was joined by several of his then Barca team-mates on the 2017 version.
Konami had intended to produce something similar for 2018, but a record-breaking transfer deal has forced them into a quick re-design ahead of a September 14 release date.
They have, however, settled on Coutinho for the Brazil addition, with Neymar once again moving aside.
That situation could be mirrored in real life, with Barca in the market for a successor to the top talent sold to Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million.
Coutinho the right fit for Barcelona
One approach of £72m for Coutinho has already been knocked back by Liverpool, but reports suggest that a further big-money bid is in the pipeline.
If a deal were to be done, then Konami would get their wish of having another Barcelona star grace the cover of their product in South America.