Philippe Coutinho has agreed to join Chelsea this summer to end his Barcelona nightmare – but the two clubs are yet to settle on a fee, claims a report in Spain.
The LaLiga giants are seeking as much as €90m for the Brazilian, but the Blues are expecting to spend nearer €70m, according to Sport.
Any deal at the top end of Barcelona’s asking price would represent a club-record signing for the Blues, beating the £71.5m they paid Athletic Bilbao for Kepa Arizabalaga.
Coutinho is currently on loan at Bayern Munich after his dream move to the Nou Camp turned sour but the Bundesliga champions are not expected to sign him outright due to the high cost of their option to buy.
That has put a number of top Premier League sides on high alert and it’s now believed that Chelsea will beat off Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United to get the World Cup star’s signature.
But one of the most-talked about transfer sagas in recent memory seems unlikely to have a smooth and straightforward passage despite this latest update.
While Spanish outlet Sport say Coutinho has given Chelsea his word that he wants to sign and that a return to the Premier League with Frank Lampard’s side is top of his agenda, the two clubs remain still some way apart on agreeing a suitable fee.
Barcelona head coach Quique Setien, who wasn’t in charge when Coutinho made his £142million move to the Nou Camp from Liverpool, has made some positive noises about the player, suggesting the Catalan giants could be ready to wipe the slate clean.
However, Setien’s comments could also be interpreted as a bid to drive the midfield playmaker’s price up and show that Barcelona will play hardball with any potential suitors.
“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.”
However, further stories from behind the scenes at Barca say that the club are trying to garner funds to splash out on a new £561million strikeforce so want to recoup as much as possible from the sale of Coutinho.
Despite their financial concerns – which has seen their entire squad take a pay-cut – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted the Spanish giants are still capable of signing the world’s elite stars.
“There is not going to be as much money in the transfer market because of the pandemic,” Bartomeu said. “But I predict that we are going to see a lot more swap deals.”
One such deal, according to Mundo Deportivo, is that Chelsea would bring in Coutinho and let midfielder N’Golo Kante go the other way.
The 29-year-old is said to be open to the idea of a move to LaLiga and with both players rated in the €80m bracket, the swap would make financial sense to both parties.