Late last night, Nike, who also run Barcelona’s online store, pushed an update live on their website. It offered shoppers the chance to get a 2017-18 Barcelona shirt with Coutinho’s name on it alongside a link to shop the Brazilian magician’s “look.” The links, though, led nowhere, and the advertising copy was quickly removed.
The question for fans of both clubs was, did Nike know something and screw up by letting the world know or was it a case of the sportswear giant updating a bit of just-in-case ad copy and hitting publish on it rather than saving it. The second, really, is most likely. Still, Liverpool fans were understandably incensed—and worried.
There’s still been no word from either club or from Nike, but a handful of journalists with connections to the Liverpool end have come out today with something of a collective shrug. Anything might be possible, but as far as they know it the situation remains unchanged and they don’t expect a Coutinho deal to be done in January.
The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce said he would be “amazed” if a mid-season deal happened and that the only people who could say what was actually going on in this case are on the Nike or Barcelona end of things—the implication being that if a deal is meant to be done, much like last summer Liverpool are in the dark on it.
Meanwhile in The Telegraph, Chris Bascombe called the situation “bizarre” and Sky’s Guillem Balague said there have been no meetings between the clubs’ representatives about a January deal—though Balague believes, as do many, that there has been a softening of Liverpool’s stance that could pave the way for a summer move.
All told, there aren’t yet any solid answers as to why or how Nike “announced” Coutinho to Barcelona last night, but from the Liverpool side of things the song remains the same—Philippe Coutinho won’t be sold to Barcelona this season, but for the right price a deal might be possible in the summer.