According to Barcelona mouthpiece Mundo Deportivo, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is ready to push even harder for an exit by going on strike and refusing to play or train with his current club this season if the transfer window shuts with no deal having been done.
It would be a bold move, and it’s a bold claim. One that seems safe to ignore. Liverpool may have been caught out by Coutinho handing in a transfer request, but even if such a move would hurt the club, sitting out once the transfer window closed would hurt the player more.
Coutinho may be pushing for a move now in part because Barcelona have told him this is his one chance to make the move, but regardless of whether there’s any truth in that—and it would seem a highly dubious claim—it is certain that if he didn’t play this year they wouldn’t come back for him.
No club is going to commit a nine-figure transfer fee to a player who hasn’t been involved in competitive football in a year. Plus there’s also the small matter of the World Cup. if Coutinho doesn’t play club football this season, he won’t be playing for Brazil next summer.
Going on strike might hurt the club, but it would hurt Coutinho even more—it might even kill his career. For now, missing out on training and playing with a back injury that may or may not be legitimate is pushing things about as far as he realistically can on that front.
Mundo Deportivo, though, say that Coutinho is so enamoured with the thought of making the switch to Barcelona that he’s willing to give up on his World Cup dreams with Brazil if it comes to that. They further suggest that the back injury currently sidelining him is not legitimate.
Coutinho may not be in a position where he can go on strike for a season if Liverpool choose to hold on to him, but this latest report out of Catalonia only serves to underline the growing ugliness of this transfer saga, one that has seen the player burn bridges with his teammates and manager.
The player won’t go on strike this season, forfeiting his chance to play for Brazil and seeing his wages docked, but with Coutinho willing to use a scorched earth policy in order to try to force an exit the truth is it’s becoming difficult to see a way for him to be brought back into the fold.