Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has revealed that he is “counting on” Philippe Coutinho to return to Camp Nou and make an impression next season.
Coutinho was sent out on loan to Bayern Munich for this season after his high-profile move from Liverpool to Barcelona did not go fully to plan, but the German giants are not expected to sign him outright due to the high cost of their option to buy.
That has set Coutinho’s sights towards a return to the Premier League, and while a move back to Liverpool would be unlikely, two London rivals in Arsenal and Chelsea have been linked recently.
However, while it had previously been taken for granted that Barcelona would let him leave again, that stance appears to have changed, as Setien has described the Brazil international as a “great player”.
“I think Coutinho is a great player,” he told RAC1 (via the London Evening Standard). “I like him a lot. He’s a player who, in principle, is Barcelona’s.
“Any team that wants him has to pay his clause (€400m) or a certain amount to Barca.
“I’m counting on him to be here at the start of next season. I don’t know what he wants to do.
“Perhaps I have to speak to him and ask him. He is a great player, without doubt.”
Setien was not in charge at Barcelona when they made the decision to part company with Coutinho, with the manager having arrived mid-season following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde, who had not been able to get the best out of the 27-year-old in their one-and-a-half years together.