Paris Saint-Germain have put the boot to Barcelona, bullying one of football’s traditional bullies, a club that alongside Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have long considered themselves at the very top to the pecking order, their star players untouchable.
In the past, the only way you realistically got a player out of the Camp Nou was because Barcelona had grown tired of them and moved on to their next shiny toy. This summer, though, PSG turned that on its head, triggering Neymar’s €222M release clause.
The response by the Catalan club has been a panicked flailing about for a pricy replacement or three, with Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho one of the supposed targets that they appear to have settled on. Manager Jürgen Klopp, though, isn’t especially worried.
“I cannot talk about this just because a Barcelona guy starts talking,” was Klopp’s incredulous response when asked to comment on a few Catalan journalists saying a deal was all but done and that Barcelona wanted complete a deal for Coutinho by Sunday.
“Did he say they come to Liverpool and do business?” he asked. “Do they say something like this? That they want to come over? They’re being funny. I don’t want things like this. It’s nice that Coutinho is so highly rated but they can save their energy.”
Klopp has seen first-hand how difficult it can be to get a deal done in the current market, one that has seen power shift to the selling clubs. He has watched RB Leipzig frustrate his attempts to sign Naby Keïta and Southampton drag their feet with Virgil van Dijk.
He’s also seen PSG respond to Barcelona’s attempts to bully them by making a move for their star midfielder Marco Verratti by turning around and bullying Barcelona right back. And in all of those cases, the clubs attempting to do a deal were working at them for months.
Now, it’s grown late in the window. Liverpool don’t need to stand firm all summer; just for one month. And in Coutinho they have a player unlikely to agitate for a move—if the Brazilian does one day leave the club, perhaps even to Barcelona, it will be on good terms.
It won’t be this late in the window, and it won’t be with Liverpool left unable to source a suitable replacement. Liverpool have no need to sell to fund deals this summer, and if they did sell Coutinho, they would struggle to replace him at this stage in the transfer window.
So Barcelona can rate the player all they want, and a few Catalan journalists with ties to the club can talk, but Jürgen Klopp isn’t in a selling mood. They’d be better off saving their energy chasing after players who might actually be available.