Brendan Rodgers has conceded that Leicester have little to no chance of signing Philippe Coutinho amid claims Barcelona had put the Brazilian midfielder up for sale.
The attacking midfielder left Liverpool for Camp Nou in January 2018, but the move has not quite gone to plan, leading to him being loaned out to Bayern Munich this season.
And with Bayern opting not to activate their option not to sign Coutinho on a permanent basis, speculation has strongly linked with him a return to the Premier League – most notably to Chelsea – and especially with Barcelona looking to cast aside a number of big names to help with their squad rebuilding.
However, Leicester have also been mentioned as potential suitors for the Brazilian star, especially given the Foxes will likely be able to offer Coutinho Champions League football next season and owing to the fact that it was Rodgers who brought the player to England in the first place.
However, in response to the rumours, Rodgers appears to have ended all talk of seeing Coutinho in a Liverpool shirt next season.
Rodgers said on Eamonn Holmes’ Eamonn and the Gaffers podcast: “I’ve seen lots of speculation around young Phil, I don’t think… Philippe’s a wonderful player, a brilliant talent, but he would be someone who is way out of our price bracket.”
Reports have indicated that Barcelona have set a £75m asking price on Coutinho’s head – around half the fee they paid for him – but Rodgers expects many clubs to struggle to spend big money this summer in light of the global economic struggles that are impacting the game.
Nonetheless, Rodgers insists Leicester are continuing to work behind the scenes on some potential incomings this summer and added: “In terms of transfers, it’s something that we’re tentatively looking at.
“The market I feel is going to be very difficult this year, this coming summer.
“It’s one where we have discussions but there’s certainly nothing concrete at this stage.”
Pundits criticise Chelsea plan to sign Coutinho
All things considered, it appears that Coutinho looks most likely to sign for Chelsea this summer, although Newcastle – whose pockets look set to be swelled by their new owners – cannot be discounted either.
A prospective move to Chelsea, however, has been blasted by Gary Neville, who offered this stinging seven-word critique of their plans to recruit the Brazilian.
And Neville’s fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp has also expressed his concerns at the deal, especially when it comes at a time when the Blues have just started to finally give some of their homegrown talent the chance to shine.
“I don’t see this [Coutinho to Chelsea] as a goer, it’s an awful lot of money,” Redknapp told Sky Sports’ The Football Show. “Coutinho is a super-talented player but he doesn’t get enough goals.
“Chelsea have Mason Mount there and a lot of trust has been given to the young players who are coming through at Stamford Bridge. The way Chelsea have been going for the last year or so, I just don’t see them going to spend £79m on a player.
“Coutinho is talented, but why would you want to risk preventing someone like Mount, who is going to be a top-class player, having the opportunities himself?”