Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was reportedly “really close” to signing Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho before Ronald Koeman’s decisive intervention.
Coutinho spent last season on loan at Bayern Munich and, while impressing, his future initially remained unclear.
Indeed the Brazilian returned to the Camp Nou where his chances looked limited under former boss Quique Setien. Coutinho signed up to his loan spell after struggling for minutes in the 2018/19 campaign.
However, his situation changed with Setien’s sacking; Koeman took charge and decided to keep the midfielder.
That call left Arsenal in the lurch, as described by journalist Fabrizio Romano.
“Before, Barca were considering to sell Philippe Coutinho and he was on the list to sell, so his agents were working to offer him to Tottenham, to Arsenal,” the reporter told the Liverpool Echo.
“Arsenal were really close and at the start of August, they were ready. But once Koeman arrived, he understood it was difficult to sign other players, for example Memphis Depay.
“Ousmane Dembele [was not close to signing for Liverpool] because [Liverpool made] a simple loan with no buy option.
“Barcelona were considering the move to let him play but in September they changed their position because they needed money to sign Depay.
“Always, the player said no to Liverpool and Juventus. The player said it was not a matter of money; he wanted to stay [at Barcelona].”
Partey Arsenal’s eventual signing
Elsewhere in the transfer window, Arsenal also showed strong interest in Lyon’s Houssem Aouar. The Gunners made a bid for the Frenchman, which the Ligue 1 side described as “timid”.
As such, attention then turned to Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey. Indeed Arsenal made a late move with 24 hours left of the window to sign the Ghanaian enforcer.
The £45million arrival made his first start in Thursday’s Europa League win, controlling the match from holding midfield.