FC Barcelona are said to have stepped up their interest in the race to land Liverpool FC playmaker Philippe Coutinho’s signature.
Coutinho has had three good seasons at Anfield after moving from Inter Milan in 2013, and is now participating in the Copa America 2016 with the Brazil national team in USA.
These performances have convinced both PSG and Barcelona that Coutinho could be the right man for the job and are trying to contact the player’s representatives for a possible summer move, according to French news outlet Le10 Sport.
According to The Sun, PSG are prepared to shell out around £25 million to bring Coutinho to the French capital. However, Liverpool obviously want more for their Brazilian talisman. While Barcelona are interested in signing Coutinho, they may not have the financial muscle to go into a bidding war with the French champions.
Regardless of their purchasing capacity, Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Neymar have encouraged Coutinho to join the Catalan club, saying he could do well at the Camp Nou.
“Football is about living the moment,” Alves, who is said to be on his way to Juventus, was quoted as saying in Yahoo Sports. “Liverpool have history but you should consider playing for top UCL sides. He has the quality to play for Barcelona.”
Coutinho’s Catch-22 situation
Coutinho has had a decent season with Liverpool, scoring 12 goals and providing seven assists in all competitions. However, the big regret for any Liverpool player from this season would be that they could not win the Europa League despite making it to the finals.
A Europa League triumph would have meant direct qualification for next season’s Champions League group stage. But now, Liverpool will not be a part of any European competition next season, as they finished eighth in the Premier League and failed to win the League Cup final against Manchester City.
The one thing that both PSG and Barcelona can offer Coutinho is Champions League action, essential for the growth of young players. However, what PSG and Barcelona may not be able to offer Coutinho is a regular spot in the starting lineup.
PSG have had to let star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic go as a free agent, and have one spot open in their 4-3-3 formation that they seem to prefer. However, the likes of Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, Javier Pastore, and Lucs Moura are all set to fight for that remaining spot, and Coutinho might find it a bit difficult to get regular game time.
On the other hand, Barcelona are unlikely to prefer Coutinho ahead of their front three — Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Neymar – which means Coutinho will only get to play as an understudy for these players.
Another position the Catalans could play him is as a midfielder. Andres Iniesta is clearly ageing, and can no more take the strain of playing two or three games a week. Also, the Catalans realise they need to find a long term replacement for the 32 year old Iniesta.
Last summer’s signing Arda Turan has been a flop in the 2015/16 season, and the Catalans could be looking at Coutinho as a long term replacement for Iniesta. However, that would still mean that the Brazilian has to play second fiddle to Iniesta.
At Liverpool, though, Coutinho is more or less one of the first names to get on the team sheet. The 23-year-old could be in for a difficult decision if he has to choose between these three clubs.