Barcelona: Philippe Coutinho reveals his brand new shirt number
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Barcelona want to get Philippe Coutinho off the wage bill this summer. Practically everybody at the Nou Camp is up for sale as the La Liga giants look to balance their finances in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. And though Leicester have transfer interest in the Brazil international, a move back to Liverpool doesn’t seem entirely out of the question.
Barcelona have been hit hard by the pandemic.
As a result, they’re being forced into utilising the free agent market – already snapping up Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, with Memphis Depay then expected to follow.
Big names are on the market. Antoine Griezmann may be cut loose, while there’s also the possibility that names such as Jordi Alba, Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti will be sold too.
And the player the Catalan giants want to jettison most is Coutinho.
They thought they were onto a winner when they signed the Brazilian from Liverpool back in the January transfer window of 2018, forking out £142m to secure his signature.
But Coutinho has failed to live up to expectations, toiling under Ernesto Valverde and Ronald Koeman.
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Leicester have emerged as frontrunners in the race to sign the Samba star, with Brendan Rodgers previously helping the 29-year-old take the Premier League by storm.
With European football to offer, albeit in the form of the Europa League rather than the Champions League, the Foxes could find themselves as an attractive proposition to the playmaker.
But, while that’s the case, AS claimed at the end of May that Barcelona had actually proposed Coutinho return to Liverpool instead. For free, too.
That’s because they supposedly owe the Reds a payment for the Samba star, amounting to in the region of £40m.
And with Barcelona unwilling to spend a penny more on Coutinho, it was alleged they wanted him to return to Liverpool instead in an arrangement that would suit all involved.
Liverpool, despite their Premier League and Champions League success in recent seasons, are yet to actually invest in a like-for-like replacement.
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And Jurgen Klopp could be enticed by the idea of having Coutinho back as a result.
Coutinho has also been linked with a move to Arsenal in the years since leaving Merseyside but, with Mikel Arteta’s side operating on a frugal budget, are unlikely to snap him up.
Leicester would definitely be an interesting move.
And Rodgers, speaking on The Beautiful Game Podcast last year, opened up on how he helped mould Coutinho into a footballing superstar.
He said: “I think if you’ve watched my teams over a period of time you will see I like quick, dynamic, flexibility, rotation, movement, speed, power. That’s the make up of my teams.
“When I was looking at the team in the first six months there were certain ingredients that were missing.
“Philippe was one I knew from my Chelsea days. We tried to get him to Chelsea when he was 14 but he had already committed to Inter Milan. So we talked about him in the summer and kept tabs on him.
“Then all of a sudden he became available. At 19 we thought ‘Wow. Right let’s get this boy in!’
“Most people would have probably looked at him and thought he’s not for the Premier League. But what a talent. He intimidates people when he has the ball with his quality.”
Upon moving to Barcelona, Coutinho made it clear he wasn’t in it for the money.
“This is not about money” he said. “It’s about the chance to play for Barcelona, to live in Barcelona.
“I gave 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time I played for Liverpool, Five years, I did everything I could possibly do. I love this club, but it is time for a new adventure.
“I have so many memories and have so many people to thank at Liverpool. I have to improve as a player. In my head, I always think this.
“I understand the size of the task ahead, the cost of the transfer, the status of the deal but this is about ambition, dreams. I want to play with the best player in the world.
“But I will return to Liverpool to say goodbye, to my team-mates, to staff and to the people who helped me and my family. I owe them a lot.
“Now I am looking forward. It’s time.”
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