As you may recall, there was a little bit of drama this past summer between Catalan giants Barcelona and the cash-rich French heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar’s galaxy-shifting transfer not only paved the way for Barcelona’s interest in Philippe Coutinho to suddenly become very real and very annoying for Liverpool, it also led to no small amount of rancor between Ligue 1 and La Liga, whose officials have been frantically raising question marks over PSG’s compliance with financial fair play regulations.
While Liverpool were able to hang on to Coutinho for the first half of the 2016-17 season at least, it does seem that the Brazilian midfielder’s departure from Anfield is all but certain, and the only question is whether it will occur at the end of the current season, or whether Barcelona will give it another shot in January. Now, Coutinho’s Brazil teammate Thiago Silva has admitted to his own whisper campaign that could turn the transfer saga into a love triangle.
Speaking to the French media, the PSG captain admitted that he “speaks a lot” with both Coutinho and Neymar, and that he hopes Coutinho will become a nice Christmas surprise for PSG. Though the defender cautioned that “the most important thing is for [Coutinho] to make the best decision for himself,” when pressed, he added that he felt PSG would be the best destination for his compatriot.
This is precisely the kind of talk that will cause blood pressure levels to tick upwards amongst Barcelona’s culés. After suffering the indignity of losing Neymar to Paris, securing Coutinho’s services was meant to be a salve for hurt feelings. If Coutinho were to switch gears and decide to join his best buddy at the Parc des Princes instead, that might be a truly disastrous twist in the tale for Barcelona.
Set aside the fact that there hasn’t been much concrete interest in Coutinho expressed by PSG, or the fact that the French club’s owners might actually want to put the checkbook away for a little bit (not for a lack of resources, but rather to avoid fanning the financial fair play flames even further). Coutinho’s friendship with Neymar is very well-documented, as is Neymar’s desire for the pair to strike up a partnership at the club level as well as national team level, so it’s a threat that will no doubt seem very real to some of the Camp Nou faithful.
From Liverpool’s perspective, it would still be preferable to retain Coutinho’s services for the rest of the season. The Reds’ hopes of keeping the Brazilian beyond that are slim, and perhaps rest on a massive silverware haul combined with Jürgen Klopp’s dark arts of personal persuasion. If they have to lose Coutinho, however, a bidding war between two rich clubs who really don’t like each other isn’t the worst scenario in which to be. Let the games begin.