Yesterday, Barcelona came with a second bid for Philippe Coutinho. After two weeks where the only activity was the story spinning in the Catalan press—a deal was done, he’d be announced in 48 hours, the player was desperate, and on and on—the club itself finally made its move.
It was a disappointing one, just €85M up front plus a potential €15M in add-ons. If Barcelona’s intent was to seriously test Liverpool’s resolve, their eventual second offer was hilariously misgauged. Liverpool rejected it immediately and reiterated their stance: he’s not for sale at any price.
Today, talking to the press for the first time this week ahead of Saturday’s opening match of the Premier League season, Jürgen Klopp repeated the stance. Coutinho isn’t for sale. Not now, not this summer, not for any price. A third bid by Barcelona would be wasting everybody’s time.
“We are not a selling club,” Klopp said. “What they would pay in the end doesn’t matter. From a financial standpoint, there is no price limit to let him go, no price at which we are ready to give in. Our goal is to have the best possible team so we want to keep our guys and add new ones.”
Liverpool have seen first hand the rise of club power this summer, as increasing finances across Europe—and in England in particular—have made it increasingly difficult to force unwilling clubs to deal. They have first hand experience having tried to sign Naby Keïta and Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool have been very publicly chasing both players since April or May at least, willing to spend upwards of £120M on the duo, and have so far been left frustrated. Keïta’s pursuit, barring a shock development in the final weeks of the transfer window, appears well and truly over.
Van Dijk, meanwhile, hasn’t trained with the first team at Southampton in weeks and has put in an official transfer request and at best still looks a 50:50 shot to get over the line. Barcelona, for their part, have already been frustrated in their pursuit of Marco Verratti.
In all those cases, the clubs trying to sell came to them far earlier, and the players were all far more willing to push for a move than Coutinho appears to be. It’s simply too late, the player too important, and the market too difficult for Liverpool to consider a sale at any price.
“Today, no player on the planet is untouchable,” Klopp noted, a subtle dig at Barcelona’s inability to hold on to Neymar this summer, their second best player and arguably the second best player on the planet. “But a transfer is also a question of timing.”