Barcelona decide on their next number 10 following Messi exit

Date published: Wednesday 18th August 2021 11:30 - James Holland

Lionel Messi Barcelona

With Barcelona fans still reeling from the exit of Lionel Messi, it seems the club have decided on his successor in the number 10 shirt.

Messi was expected to sign a new five-year deal at the Camp Nou but saw it taken away from him due to ‘financial and structural obstacles’. The 34-year-old attacker went on to join French giants Paris Saint-Germain for free. He could make his debut in Friday’s Ligue 1 clash against Brest.

Blaugrana manager Ronald Koeman will now have to build a side without his star player. And that process could see a peripheral figure return to the fore this season.

According to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo (via Football Espana), former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho looks set to be given the famed number 10 shirt.

He has already lost his number 14 to Albanian forward Rey Manaj. That has given Barca chiefs a good excuse to place their trust in the 29-year-old, who was signed for £142m back in January 2018.

Coutinho has been heavily linked with a move away from the club in recent weeks.

There have even been rumours that Barca might offer him to Arsenal in exchange for Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But it seems the 16-time Spanish champions have performed a dramatic U-turn.

Philippe Coutinho prior the Trofeu Joan Gamper match between FC Barcelona and Juventus FC at Estadi Johan Cruyf

A separate report from Mundo Deportivo claims that Barca will place their trust in Coutinho to get the best out of him this term.

He is seen as a vital part of the post-Messi era. They are also expecting him to link up well with Antoine Griezmann in the next few months.

It’s also hoped that his vast experience will make him a squad leader in the changing room.

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However, Coutinho has big boots to fill if he is to wear the number 10.

Messi won an unprecedented six Ballon d’Ors in the shirt, helping the club to win three Champions League trophies.

He is their top goalscorer with an incredible 672 goals in 778 games.

Spurs looking at Barcelona defender

While Coutinho now looks likely to stay at the Camp Nou, team-mate Samuel Umtiti is edging closer to a move.

Recent reports suggest they are trying to force the French centre-back out to reduce their over-spending.

He could be available for a cut-price fee as Barca are more interested in offloading his wages than receiving a large transfer sum.

That’s good news for Premier League side Tottenham. They are looking at another defensive signing following the acquisition of Cristian Romero.

READ MORE: Aguero chooses Barcelona exit route which will see him depart in January


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