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A New Hope of Liverpool Keeping Philippe Coutinho?

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Journalist Guillem Balague thinks Barcelona might be turning their attention toward Antoine Griezmann.

AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool - Premier League
Don’t you dare let go, Gini.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho certainly has filled up the pages, virtual and otherwise, when it comes to a potential move from Merseyside to Barcelona. The rumors coming out of Catalan-friendly press has linked the Liverpool midfielder with a move since mid-July, and those have yet to really subside in frequency.

As yet another transfer window approaches, and with the Little Magician on fantastic form, it was expected that Barcelona would come in yet again for Coutinho, despite him being cup-tied in the Champions League.

However, journalist Guillem Balague—who, it must be stated, has been pretty spot-on in his reporting of the Coutinho transfer saga so far—seems to think that Barcelona simply don’t have the funds to make the Coutinho move happen. Instead, he believes that selfie-enthusiast Antoine Griezmann could be the real target for the Catalan giants. (It’s almost as if controversy makes Barca more likely to sign players, not less).

“There is talk of Barcelona bringing in both Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho, but there are few problems with these reports,” Balague explained to Sky Sports, “Firstly, Barca’s wage structure accounts for over 80 per cent of the club’s income.

“The wages are so high and they desperately need more income and that is what they are trying to work on. Until that’s secured, I don’t think they can afford both Griezmann and Coutinho.

“As it stands, Liverpool have not put a price on Coutinho, regardless of what the Catalan press are saying.

“With the sources behind those stories coming from within the club, it sounds like Barcelona are looking for a reason to say Coutinho was too expensive and that they couldn’t afford him.”

“The figure being bandied about is €140m, it’s not true, but, of course, Barcelona can go back and say we couldn’t get Coutinho because it was too expensive but in the summer they might be able to show off Griezmann instead.”

Interesting stuff from Balague, and it fits with what we already know about the Barcelona-Coutinho transfer saga. We know Barcelona could not offer enough money to even bring Liverpool to the negotiation table, let alone seal the move. And we know Barcelona recently signed Lionel Messi to a massive new contract (surely representing a great deal of the aforementioned wage structure).

Philippe Coutinho surely wants this move to happen, and it’s hard to blame him. However, Liverpool have to say yes to any deal, and Fenway Sports Group seem to have a price in their head for Coutinho that Barcelona have not yet come close to offering.

Of course, Balague’s opinions were precisely that, and should be taken with a grain of salt. But he has shown himself to be a trustworthy source on this matter so far.