For at least the past six months, people with insight into the goings on at Anfield and the Camp Nou have been telling Liverpool fans not to worry about Philippe Coutinho this summer. That Barcelona had their budget set, that they had other priorities, and that they saw Coutinho as an attacker rather than a midfielder.
The papers, though, still needed to fill column inches. They needed to sell papers and drive pageviews. So the English tabloids and Spanish outlets like Sport haven’t been shy about attaching Coutinho’s name to Barcelona despite that more reputable people and places have given any such discussion a skeptical reading at best.
Today, though, even the likes of Sport are being forced to accept that Coutinho to Barcelona this summer is a non-starter, and not just because a month after the season ended there’s been nothing from either club or from the player’s representatives hinting at it actually being a thing—though that’s certainly part of it.
The main reason, though, is that a month into the offseason now, Barcelona’s plans are starting to shape up. Their big summer signing, as has been whispered about for some time, appears almost certain to be midfielder Marco Verratti. And the 24-year-old PSG and Italy star is going to cost them around €100M.
Past speculation had often floated Coutinho’s name alongside Verratti, but with Barcelona seeing Coutinho as more of an attacker than midfielder and with Barcelona needing a midfielder far more than an attacker, any of the more reliable reports had long insisted that Verratti would be their man.
Now, he is—or at least he’s expected to be in relatively short order. And as for the wing, Barcelona are now looking for a bargain. They’re also looking for a player who will arrive happy to back up Neymar and Saurez and Messi in their attacking trio. To that end, it appears they’re set to trigger Gerard Deulofeu’s buyback clause.
That will see Everton get €12M for the ex-Barcelona winger they signed for €5M in 2015 after he spent time with them on loan a season previously. And for Liverpool, his Barcelona return, along with their strong move for Verratti, confirms once and for all the Coutinho will remain at Liverpool this summer.