With Barcelona chasing a deal for Philippe Coutinho this summer, we look at the factors behind their interest in the star Liverpool man.
It’s no secret that Coutinho is coverted in Barcelona…
And the Catalan giants believe Luis Suarez’s close friendship with Coutinho could prove a key factor in helping them sign the Liverpool star this summer.
Reports in the Spanish media on Tuesday claimed the Brazilian had agreed terms over a summer switch to the Nou Camp, subject to Barcelona meeting Liverpool’s £76million asking price.
However, counter claims on Wednesday suggested Real Madrid could yet come in for the player this summer and would have no trouble in meeting the Reds’ asking price.
However, all things considered, it’s Barcelona who look the far more likely summer destination for Coutinho – thanks to the player’s close friendship with both former Liverpool team-mate Suarez and fellow Brazilian Neymar.
Neymar, especially, has gone out of his way to suggest Coutinho should swap Merseyside for Catalonia, the player saying after the recent international break: “He would have a place in this Barcelona team.”
That place of course being the inside right side of Barcelona’s midfield – said to be Coutinho’s favoured position.
However, Barcelona believe it’s Suarez who could prove the decisive factor in helping to push through the deal.
Suarez counts Coutinho as one of his best friends in football from their time together at Anfield. There was a Spanish and Portuguese speaking group of Liverpool players during his time at the club and the two became good friends.
Furthermore, Barcelona’s need to replace an increasingly-fragile Andres Iniesta means Coutinho would likely earn an instant place in their side next season – and that more than anything else is thought to be key to persuading the player to move.
The grey hairs on Iniesta perhaps make him seem older than his 32 years, but they are telling of a man who, very sadly, has his better days behind him.
Coutinho’s goal in the Merseyside derby was straight out of the Iniesta copybook, cutting inside before curling a beauty into the corner of the net.
It won’t be so much as out with the old and in with the new – but all good things, include those at Barcelona, don’t last forever.
Iniesta, himself, has suggested he knows his time as a Barcelona regular may be up…
“I have always said that I would love to retire here. But I will never be here just for the sake of being here,” Iniesta said recently.
Ultimately, Barcelona’s hopes of landing the player could rest with the negotiating skills of sporting director Robert Fernandez. At this stage, a cash plus player sale cannot be ruled out.
But with all the factors pointing towards a move, Liverpool will likely stand firm over their valuation before sanctioning any deal.
Coutinho’s time at Liverpool has been glorious, but sadly for Jurgen Klopp and their fans, it may be about to come to an end….