Chelsea are reportedly ready to challenge arch-rivals Manchester United in pursuit of Philippe Coutinho, who is likely to leave Barcelona in the summer.

According to The Sun, Chelsea are exploring the prospect of signing Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho in the summer amid interest from arch-rivals Manchester United.

The Blues will be keen to undergo a major squad overhaul this summer following yet another mediocre campaign, this time under new coach Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea have already appealed to FIFA for postponing their transfer ban, which was issued earlier this year and should they manage to convince the footballing body, Coutinho could emerge as one of their main targets in the summer.

After a promising debut campaign in Spain last season, the Brazilian international has found life difficult under Ernesto Valverde this campaign, making only 17 starts out of 27 league games for Barcelona so far.

In fact, last season’s flop Ousmane Dembele has been often preferred ahead of the former Liverpool star in the Barcelona first-team this season. As a result, Coutinho is seemingly growing keen on leaving Catalonia in the summer as he looks to revive his career next season. Chelsea, in that regard, could emerge as the ideal destination for the Brazilian international for a number of reasons.

As iterated earlier, Sarri’s men have struggled to pose any strong threat for the title this season, largely due to their inconsistencies in the attacking department. Indeed, Chelsea have often appeared over reliant on the services of Eden Hazard, in terms of both creativity as well as productivity.

In addition, Ross Barkley has had a topsy-turvy campaign while Mateo Kovacic’s loan spell will expire at the end of the campaign, thus accentuating the need for a new attacking midfielder, who can not only provide the creative essence going forward but also offer the much-needed dynamism in the Chelsea attack. And, that’s where Coutinho could come into the fray.

The 26-year-old is gifted with immense technical quality, which allows him to rotate possession at a quick rate as well as link up with teammates in the final third. This tunes in quite well with Chelsea’s high-octane attacking game under Sarri.

Coutinho's struggles at Barcelona showing no signs of ending. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Coutinho’s struggles at Barcelona showing no signs of ending. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Furthermore, the Brazilian is quite a versatile operator in the final third as he can, aside from his preferred central attacking midfield role, also feature on the left wing slot.

That means the Barcelona struggler can either be utilised as a winger, who will cut-inside and create spaces for his team or as the lone attacking midfielder, the latter of which, can help Sarri solve his problems of accommodating an extra midfielder in his preferred 4-3-3 formation.

But, what makes Coutinho such an appealing target for the Blues is his previous exposure in the Premier League, having made over 150 appearances in the English top-flight with Liverpool. This will surely help integrate to his new club and the rather robust nature of the English football, thus making him an ideal signing for Chelsea, should he leave Barcelona.

However, with Manchester United also reportedly making major strides to sign Coutinho coupled with Chelsea’s own transfer ban, it could well be the case that the Blues will not be able to secure the services of the Brazilian in the summer.

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