In a summer where clubs have shown steely resolve in hanging on to star players whose contracts are not subject to release clauses, Fenway Sports Group have so far fallen in line by publicly insisting - on numerous occasions - that they will not sell Philippe Coutinho this year, no matter the sum involved. Up until a couple of days ago, this was not a difficult position for Liverpool to take, as Barcelona’s offers for Coutinho, though far from paltry, were still arguably below market given current circumstances.
The situation changed radically when Coutinho notified Liverpool that he wanted to leave on Friday. At that point, the question was whether or not the owners might consider parting with an unhappy and potentially unproductive player, with the specter of an angry manager in Jürgen Klopp and a disastrous start to the 2017-18 campaign looming if the owners failed to play their cards right.
According to the Times, Barcelona may be willing to exacerbate FSG’s plight with a bid in the neighborhood of £137 million (€150 million), which would represent a sizeable chunk of the Neymar haul as well as a mind-boggling rate of return on the initial investment on Coutinho. If the monster bid does materialize, FSG will have to weigh it against the fact that Coutinho will most likely leave next summer, at the very latest - and if he does so then, it will likely be for far less than £137 million.
On the other hand, Liverpool’s owners will have to consider an unhappy fanbase, unhappy manager, and the prospect of many unhappy scorelines if they choose to publicly reverse course from their vociferous and adamant refusals to sell this summer. Not to mention the fact that FSG have struggled to spend whatever cash they’ve had so far. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone associated with the club, and the next two weeks are going to be very interesting indeed.