Despite assurances from Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu, it appears unlikely Philippe Coutinho will be playing his football at Camp Nou at the beginning of September. The Brazilian playmaker arrived to much fanfare in January 2018 and remains the Blaugrana’s record buy at £142 million but the transfer has not met expectations.
Coutinho has performed admirably in a number of roles for Barcelona but to get the best out of the ex-Liverpool hero, it is widely regarded he must be positioned in the number 10 role, which was always going to be unlikely in Spain given Lionel Messi operates in the same area. The 27-year-old has featured in both a front three and a midfield trio, but with restrictions, and with Antoine Griezmann finally confirmed a Barcelona player, the competition for places will only intensify.
Of course, the Frenchman may not be the last arrival before the summer window closes with Neymar clamouring for a return. The South American has made no secret of his wish to leave PSG and Barcelona are his first and only choice should a deal materialise.
The French outfit are the current favourites to secure the services of Coutinho. Having taken out a £31.5m loan to part fund the signing of Griezmann, Barcelona have explored a player exchange for Neymar, with Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and Ivan Rakitic the rumoured players up for grabs. Coutinho is 11/8 to ply his trade in Parc des Princes and would likely feature in his preferred role alongside Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe.
If the Vasco da Gama youth graduate was to cut short his time with the Blaugrana, Liverpool are believed to be his number one destination.
Agent Kia Joorabchian recently said Coutinho still has a special affinity to the Champions League winners and would never play for one of the Reds’ domestic rivals. Coutinho is 5/2 to make an emotional return to Anfield and, perhaps crucially, Jurgen Klopp has failed to distance Liverpool from making a move.
Bayern Munich are a distant 20/1 to snap up the Brazilian but the Bavarians have spent handsomely on defensive reinforcements and have been chasing Manchester City winger Leroy Sane since the end of the previous league campaign. Meanwhile, a return to the Nerazzurri is 50/1 and is also fanciful given Inter’s long pursuit of Romelu Lukaku and Edin Dzeko.