Liverpool have resisted all attempts that have come their way from Barcelona for their star playmaker Philippe Coutinho
FC Barcelona have endured a tumultuous off season in which they’ve seen one of their star players, and arguably the man they saw carry the team for the next decade, pack his bags to seek pastures anew in the French capital. Ligue 1 giants Paris St. Germain met the €222 million buyout clause for Neymar, and the Brazilian bid farewell to Camp Nou.
Now, with a massive void to fill in their attack, Barcelona are looking to spoil the plans of other top European clubs in order to ensure they have a competitive squad to challenge for the La Liga title this season, and also improve on their disappointing Champions League performance of last season.
In order to replace Neymar in the attacking third, Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele has been heavily linked with a move to the Catalan Giants. All the murmurs in the air surrounding his future, has seen the Frenchman go AWOL on a number of occasions, as he is doing everything he can to force a move to Spain this summer.
But, a certain Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool has also been one of the Spanish club’s top targets, and the saga has been going on for almost the entirety of the window. A 25-year-old attacking midfielder, arguably at the peak of his career, has been subject to interest from Barcelona, who are willing to shell out £118 million in order to acquire his services.
The player, himself, is understood to favour a move to Barcelona as he has grown frustrated over the lack of silverware won in England during his time at Anfield. While he has performed at the highest level, he feels that his skills could be put to better use in Spain, due to which he has handed in a transfer request.
Liverpool’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group, are holding a stance of their own, and have gone on record to state that the player will not be moving in the summer and will continue to play for the Merseyside outfit in the 2017/18 campaign.
This move is also backed by Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp, who sees Coutinho as one of the main men in his ultra-attacking outfit, and envisaged to build his team around the dynamic Brazilian. Alas, some things never quite work as per plan.
That being said, if the club decide to go against the player’s wishes and refuse all the bids that come their way, they may not get the best of Coutinho for the remainder of his duration at the club. While the 25-year-old isn’t one who’ll sulk and refuse to play for the club, it will certainly damage the relationship he has with the football club.
Barca are willing to make Coutinho the world’s second most expensive player, and parting ways with him can see Liverpool get adequate funds to strengthen in other areas of the pitch. The Reds have been in the hunt of a centre-back all summer, and with money to shell out from a potential Coutinho sale, they may get their desired targets.
On the opening weekend of the Premier League season, without the services of Coutinho, the Liverpool outfit looked like a picture of perpetual motion as they moved the ball forward with utmost calmness and guile, and got in the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the ball, and saw the trio score grab one goal apiece.
On the defensive end, however, the woes continued for the Merseyside club. With no centre-backs added to upgrade on the below-par performances of Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan last season, Liverpool struggled aerially once again, and shipped in three goals against Watford.
The message was sent loud and clear to Jurgen Klopp that reinforcements were needed, and they were needed without any further ado. All summer, Liverpool chased defenders, but failed to come to agreements with any of their top targets.
Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is one such name who has been heavily linked to Liverpool for the past few months. Despite being publicly accused of tapping up the player, Liverpool could still choose to operate in the ethical way and submit a formal bid that meets Southampton’s valuation of the player.
The Reds could also sign a player in Coutinho’s position, that is on the left side of the midfield trio and also a striker to ease Roberto Firmino’s load up front. Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri has been subject to interest from Liverpool, and they could look to sign him for £36 million should they decide to part ways with the Brazilian attacking midfielder.
Yes, they will miss the 25-year-old’s link-up play and his astuteness one and off the ball, but it could be beneficial to cash in now, than risk losing him for a lesser rate next summer.
For Barcelona, Coutinho’s arrival could kick start a whole new revolution at the Camp Nou. The Spanish side are still to find a player of the calibre of Xavi, and with Andres Iniesta nearing the end of his career, Coutinho could now pull the strings for the Catalan Giants from midfield.
After surviving the hard and fast nature of the Premier League, playing in the La Liga with a number of world class players around him, Coutinho may be given the impetus to take his game to the next level, and make his mark as one of Europe’s finest.
A bid in the region of £130 million could be enough to tempt Liverpool to let go of their star midfielder, and is a move that will benefit all three parties in the long run. With time running out, if Liverpool are to change their mind about the player, they need to act quickly and sort out the issue within the next couple of days.