Leicester to battle Italians as LaLiga giants hit fast-forward over star’s exit
Reports claim Leicester City may face competition from a pair of Italian giants if they want to sign Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho this summer.
The 29-year-old could well be available in the off-season after failing to hit the heights at the Nou Camp. The Brazil playmaker cost Barca an initial £105 million when he joined the Catalans from Liverpool in January 2018. He had been a star for the Reds over a five-year spell at Anfield and arrived in Barcelona to much fanfare.
Initial signs were encouraging as the South American scored 10 goals in 22 outings during the second half of 2017-2018. But the following campaign saw his goal return and general creativity drop off.
The Brazilian hit just 11 goals in 54 appearances and seemed lacking in confidence. The Spanish giants took action, sending him out on loan to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 season.
It proved to be a successful spell for the Bundesliga giants. He notched 11 goals, including a hat-trick and two assists as the Bavarians hammered Werder Bremen 6-1 in December 2019.
Coutinho expressed a desire to remain at the German outfit after the conclusion of his loan deal. But he was back in Barcelona last summer.
And now, after an injury-plagued 2020-21, it might be time for a new challenge. He made just eight LaLiga starts among 12 appearances before a knee injury in December ended his season.
That has not deterred Brendan Rodgers, with the Foxes heavily linked with a swoop for the attacking midfielder. And it was recently suggested that he may be available for as little as £27m – a fraction of the amount Barca paid.
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Coutinho popular in Italy
There is no question that Coutinho is a talented player who should still have plenty to give. It has not worked out at Barca but there is time to put that right.
Rodgers worked with him on Merseyside but he was also on the books of Inter Milan between 2008 and 2013. And the Nerazzurri are said to be considering a reunion with the man capped 63 times by Selecao.
But city rivals AC Milan have also been credited with an interest, according to Sport (via Sport Witness). The Serie A duo have ‘shown interest’ in the player as per the report but there is no news of any bids.
However, it is stated that Barca will ‘accelerate’ efforts to find a new club for the player during pre-season. The club’s financial plight has been well documented.
And they need to raise funds – even if it means making a huge loss on one of their marquee signings. There is also the fact that they will be obliged to pay Liverpool another €20m if he makes 10 more appearances.
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