Barcelona plan new move for Coutinho
Spanish giants ready to revive chase in January Liverpool standing firm after summer bids failed
Barcelona have signalled their intent to revive efforts to sign Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho when the transfer window opens in January.
The Spanish club failed with three bids for Coutinho last summer, the last worth £115million.
Liverpool insisted there was no price that would force a sale and that will not change while they are competing to meet their objectives this campaign, particularly as Jurgen Klopp looks to secure a place in the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Despite Liverpool’s stance, Oscar Grau, Barcelona’s chief executive, revealed his club’s plans to try again – although he said Barcelona would still need to sell players to raise funds.
“We are ready to buy Coutinho in the winter market, or any player the technical staff request,” Grau said. “But it is important to adjust ourselves, so if there are to be arrivals, there must be exits as well. We must forget about the price paid for Neymar last summer. After taxes, we received about €188 million [£169 million] in income and a direct financial impact on the club’s treasury of €144million.”
Liverpool will be unhappy with the latest public courting of their star player, particularly as they repeatedly warned Barcelona off making unwanted approaches.
Barcelona have unashamedly ignored any protocol regarding the illegal approach to the player. Liverpool’s reluctance to make a formal complaint to Fifa at this stage may have something to do with their own recent problems in this particularly shadowy area of transfer activity – they would undoubtedly be accused of hypocrisy – but, by any definition, the chase of Coutinho suggests Fifa regulations can be flouted at will by the La Liga club.
Since last summer, Barcelona have not only spoken openly about their desire to sign Coutinho, but it has been widely reported in Spain that they had an agreement in place with him despite never being granted permission to negotiate terms with the player – a clear contravention of transfer rules.
Such “tapping up” has been described as scandalous when applied in the Premier League – and would inevitably prompt an investigation – but in the global transfer market, Barcelona would appear capable of following a different set of rules.
Coutinho, who will return to training with Brazilian international team-mate Roberto Firmino today, missed the start of the season after Barcelona’s summer bids, the attacker citing a back problem.
Since returning to the Liverpool line-up he has been in fine form, scoring in three consecutive fixtures.
Klopp’s dependency on his playmaker has increased following the loss of Sadio Mane for the next six weeks.
Barcelona’s statement raises the prospect of another month of disruption in January, as Coutinho has made no secret of his long-term aspiration to move to the Nou Camp.
Meanwhile, Liverpool may not learn how much they must pay for Dominic Solanke until the new year as the Premier League has not yet set a date for a tribunal hearing with Chelsea.
Solanke moved from Stamford Bridge to Anfield last summer as his contract expired in London, but the champions are entitled to compensation for losing an academy player.
Wanted man: Barcelona are pursuing Coutinho (right) to replace his Brazil team-mate Neymar, who switched to Paris Saint-germain in a world-record transfer deal