The timing isn’t right for Philippe Coutinho to move to Barcelona, or Liverpool to sell their key star
Philippe Coutinho should resist the lure of Barcelona and remain at Liverpool to protect his career’s upward trajectory.
Reports in Spain suggest that the Brazil international has agreed terms with the La Liga giants as Barcelona look to sign Coutinho and fill Neymar’s void after his world-record move last week.
The onus, according to the Spanish media, is on Barcelona to agree a fee with Liverpool as conflicting messages emerge from Anfield about the club’s stance on Coutinho.
One Spanish media outlet reported on Monday that John W Henry and Fenway Sports Group would be open to selling Coutinho in a deal worth £92m.
Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, is thought to be unwilling to sell the 25-year-old. Understandably, the Liverpool boss wants the Merseyside club to show their title ambitions by keeping the South American.
It would be a break from tradition under FSG. Liverpool sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona £65m deal in 2014 to undermine the club’s progress under the management of Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool were close to winning the title in 2013-14 with the Northern Irishman but Suarez’s sale saw Liverpool regress and Rodgers was eventually replaced by Klopp.
The club’s owners are back at the same crossroad: do they cash in on Coutinho and earn a reputation as a selling club or allow Klopp to keep his number 10 and make a real statement of intent?
Suarez left Liverpool as a genuine world-class player. The Liverpool star won the PFA player of the year award following a return of 31 goals in 33 games as the Reds in second place in the table.
The Uruguay international effortlessly slotted into the Barcelona team alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar. Suarez’s talent and ability to produce at vital moments is unquestionable.
Coutinho hasn’t singlehandedly transformed Liverpool into title challengers as Suarez did. The Liverpool attacker hasn’t even broken the 20-goal mark in a Premier League season.
Realistically, Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero would have to be classed as superior Premier League players than Coutinho having fired their respective teams to silverware and shown far greater consistency.
The Brazilian star would be under pressure to perform in the Barcelona side with the Catalan side reeling from the loss of Neymar. Coutinho would be entering a potentially volatile environment at Camp Nou.
Barcelona will have to rebuild under new manager Ernesto Valverde with their bitter rivals Real Madrid in good shape fresh from La Liga and Champions League glory. Liverpool may lack the magic of Messi and Suarez but Klopp’s team is more settled than Barcelona at the moment.
The sounds coming out of the Liverpool camp is the former Borussia Dortmund coach has developed a good team spirit amongst his current group of players. There is a sense that Liverpool are building something special under their German boss.
Liverpool’s summer transfer window hasn’t gone to plan but new signing Mohamed Salah has added more firepower to Klopp’s team that is already oozing with exciting attacking talent.
Although Barcelona has an unquantifiable pull for South American players, Coutinho would find the idea of growing his partnership with Firmino, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane a tempting proposition.
Coutinho is perceived a reserved figure, but judging by the social media activity of his Liverpool team-mates, he is a popular figure amongst the squad.
Indeed, the Liverpool No10 has a close bond with his compatriot Roberto Firmino and Spanish defender Alberto Moreno, although his close pal Lucas Leiva left for Lazio this summer.
Coutinho should also examine how some of his Premier League rivals have fared at Barcelona.
Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez moved to Barcelona at the peak of their powers, and despite winning silverware, were unable to emerge from Messi’s shadow and were ultimately moved on.
Let’s not forget Coutinho previously struggled at one European super power: Inter Milan. The Serie A giants lost patience with the Brazilian attacker and sold him to Liverpool in an £8.5m deal.
The Reds stand to make a significant profit if Coutinho moves to Barcelona in a deal worth in excess of £100m but Liverpool would still struggle to spend the funds raised from the Brazilian’s potential sale.
Klopp has funds to spend irrespective of Coutinho’s potential sale but the Reds have struggled to get deals for Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk over the line this summer.
The timing doesn’t seem right for Coutinho and Liverpool.
The Brazil star should persist with the Reds for at least another season to see whether Klopp can build a team capable of challenging for the title, or whether Barcelona’s rebuilding job is taking shape.