Okay, campers, rise and shine. It’s another day, and that means another round of talk about Philippe Coutinho and the continuing rumblings out of Catalonia claiming he’s a done deal for Barcelona, maybe even set to be announced before they play Sunday’s Supercopa against Real Madrid.
Which sounds a lot like when they were going to announce him before they played their Gamper Trophy match on Monday. And like they were going to last Friday. And the weekend before. Because at this point, Barcelona have signed Coutinho at least four times over for somewhere north of €400M.
Today, though, it’s a bit of pushback from the Liverpool end that’s kicking things off, as the club appear to be tiring of the noises in the Catalan press. Has a deal of around £109M been agreed? According to reports from The Liverpool Echo, Goal’s Melissa Reddy, and others, the short answer is no.
The slightly longer answer is that Liverpool still haven’t heard from Barcelona in over two weeks since the club rejected their opening offer for Coutinho and told the Catalan club that the player would not be sold at any price this summer and that any future bid would be rejected out of hand.
Further, the club say they have not met with Barcelona representatives in England this week, have no plans to do so, and have received no correspondence from Barcelona or their representatives requesting any meetings. Liverpool are not currently, have not been, and would not welcome Coutinho discussions.
The player remains involved at Liverpool, has shown no signs of trying to push for an exit, and the club have no complaints about the professionalism of either Coutinho or his agent. Meanwhile, at least one Spanish football correspondent today has pushed back against the “done deal” narrative.
Sky’s Spanish football correspondent Guillem Balague has suggested a deal is in fact unlikely given Liverpool have not heard from Barcelona in two weeks and that while the Catalan club would like to sign Coutinho, they have other targets and would not be inclined to overspend on the player.
1. Catalan press should stop using the 'it's a matter of hours' in regards of Coutinho transfer. These are the reasons... pic.twitter.com/H0mnksTRNM— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 9, 2017
2. LFC not heard at all from FCB since that offer they received while in Hong Kong. They insisit they not selling and no plans for meetings— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 9, 2017
3. FCB have strategy based in patience but also admit that if it's not Coutinho it will be another one. And that they won't overspend on him— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 9, 2017
4. Coutinho has NOT handed a transfer request, has a back injury and still behaving impeccably according to club— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 9, 2017
Or: it appears Barcelona may even already have moved on. It’s just the Catalan press—perhaps being fed information by elements within the club for their own purposes—who haven’t moved on from it. And as long as they won’t drop it, there will always be foreign outlets willing to regurgitate their reports.
Outlets like ESPNFC, who caused a brief stir yesterday when they announced Coutinho was a done deal at £109M. Despite their reputation as a leader in reporting in other sports, though, ESPN are at the very back of the pack when it comes to football and offer no reliable insight into transfer dealings.
They simply regurgitate, and the story they presented—trumpeted, even—yesterday was fed through an iteration of international ESPN outlets, from Mexico to Brazil to Deportes, before it reached their English language FC platform. They predictably cited “sources” for their claimed insight.
Those sources were like a telephone game or Russian nesting doll, ESPN retelling what ESPN retold based on a story from ESPN. Back at the start of it all, like all the stories of a Coutinho deal being done, it came from the daily Catalan reports claiming as much. It was, to steal the current phrase, fake news.
More than that, it was obvious fake news. And there will surely be more of it in the coming days. Liverpool, though, remain unconcerned. Liverpool are not negotiating with Barcelona. Liverpool do not intend to sell the player at any price this summer and do not expect the player to attempt to push through a move.