Look, it’s been a long and eventful summer transfer window. Liverpool did a lot of good business and missed out on a lot of potentially fruitful additions to the squad. Most of us are probably just thrilled it’s finally September and we can all move on. I get that, but unfortunately it’s my job here to provide you with the news of one final, kick-in-the-pants lie from Barcelona’s club director to end this all on.
Arguably the best bit of business Liverpool managed wasn’t in who they brought in, but who they refused to let leave.
Philippe Coutinho’s doomed Barcelona saga began in earnest in mid-July when people got wind of Neymar’s discontent at Barcelona and possible move to France. It got catapulted into the stratosphere when PSG triggered Neymar’s release clause and the Brazilian followed through on his threat to leave Spain.
The fervor has stemmed from Barcelona’s struggling board of directors,who realized that their early summer assurances about Neymar’s future with club had been a catastrophic mistake. In order to appease their understandably angry fan base, the club went hard in their race to sign either Philippe Coutinho or Ousmane Dembélé.
Every day since then had a new story leaked to the press about how talks between Liverpool and Barca were progressing, how close the deal was to being done. Within a week, a day, expect the official work in just a few hours...
Borussia Dortmund, while reluctant to sell the incredible young talent on their books, smelled Barcelona’s desperation and all that sweet Neymar cash and decided to set a price tag on Dembélé. He was eventually sold when Barca agreed to that price tag.
Liverpool, on the other hand, refused to put a price on their star midfielder. Let me say this again, for the people in the back. From the moment they received the first bid for Coutinho — perhaps even before that when it was all just speculation — the club was remarkably firm and consistent: Philippe Coutinho was not for sale. Not for any price. Through every progressive update on this saga, from higher bids to transfer requests, FSG’s response has been exactly the same.
Philippe Coutinho wasn’t for sale in mid-July, in August. Sorry, Barca, too late. Should have thought about this back in April.
By last Monday, local English journalists had completely given up on the story, but somehow the Catalan press was still pushing on, fed by higher-ups at Barca who wanted to assure their fans that talks were ongoing, that there was an “80% chance” that Coutinho would be a Barcelona player by Friday.
That was a lie. There were no negotiations. Coutinho wasn’t for sale.
All that brings us to today, the day after the Spanish transfer window slammed shut on Barcelona.
The club’s director, Albert Soler, gave a press conference full of lies where he claimed, lyingly, that the reason Barcelona couldn’t get a deal over the line for Coutinho was because Liverpool set a €200m price tag on him.
This is a lie. There was no price tag on Coutinho. There never was. He wasn’t for sale.
"On Friday, after weeks of offers and talks, Liverpool put a price on the player that we wanted [Coutinho]," Soler said.
"A price of €200m and we decided we wouldn't do it. That's an example of the way football is now. This club and this board will not get involved in that, though.
“What's happened in the transfer market this summer has taken us to a totally different model of football which we're not used to.
"Countries have become the principle agents in the world of football. We haven't wanted to put the club at risk, a club of 150,000 members which is ran responsibly.
"We're in a market where a goalkeeper has gone for €50m. We won't get involved in that. We won't put the club at risk. UEFA and the ECA have to take a decision and reflect on what's going on."
Look. Be with me on this a moment. Liverpool have had only one statement about Coutinho this whole time: he wasn’t for sale. The facts corroborate this. He has four years left on his contract. The club don’t need the money — hell, they couldn’t even use the money they DID have in this transfer window. It was way too late to find a replacement. Liverpool had all the leverage and no reason to sell. He wasn’t for sale ever, at any point.
Barcelona, on the other hand, lied. They lied, like, a lot for a long time. They lied to their supporters, they lied to the press, they likely even lied to Coutinho.
They lied before, and this is another lie. Maybe, somehow, the most galling lie in all of this, because truly, in your heart of hearts, do you believe that if FSG had given in and put a price tag on Coutinho, any price tag, that Barcelona weren’t desperate enough to pay it?
“We haven't wanted to put the club at risk” - give me a break.