Philippe Coutinho could yet have a future at Barcelona after manager Quique Setien hinted the midfielder could be kept at the Camp Nou despite growing links with a transfer to EPL sides Newcastle and Chelsea.
The Brazil international joined Barca from Liverpool in January 2018 for an initial £105 million—rising to £142 million—but has so far failed to come close to matching that value in Catalonia.
Setien told RAC1 last month that he really likes Coutinho—currently on loan at Bayern Munich—and suggested he was open to having the player in his squad next season:
“I think Coutinho is a great player, I really like him. He is still a Barcelona player.
“You have to pay the clause or pay a sum to Barca. I think he can be here at the beginning of next season. I have to talk to him to ask him.”
The report referred to rumours of a possible Chelsea switch, and Coutinho’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, recently said his client “would love” to return to England, via Football Daily:
Setien was appointed Barcelona manager in January after the club decided to sack Ernesto Valverde, with the former Real Betis chief hoping to revive a more expansive style of football.
Coutinho’s reinforcements on the wing could be welcome if able to get back to the career-best form he enjoyed at Liverpool, where he scored 54 goals and recorded 45 assists in 201 appearances:
Ousmane Dembele is another attacking transfer that hasn’t worked out as hoped. The former Rennes and Borussia Dortmund winger underwent surgery on a torn hamstring in February, the latest in a list of injuries that’s expected to keep him out until August.
Barcelona may like the sound of selling Coutinho provided they can recoup a suitable fee for his signature, though it’s doubtful whether Chelsea will go that high. The Blaugrana could be on the hook for an additional £17 million fee to Liverpool should the Brazilian return to Camp Nou.
Perhaps fortunately for the Catalan club, Mohammed bin Salam appears on the verge of finalizing a takeover bid of Newcastle United, with Coutinho serving as a top transfer target for the Saudi crown prince. The new ownership group could surely usurp Chelsea's transfer bid in an attempt to immediately shore up a squad that currently sits 13th in the Premier League table.