So you’ve got a transfer window, Barcelona interest, and Philippe Coutinho sat out due to an injury nobody’s totally sure yet is an actual injury. You may have heard this one before. And if you have, you know the next step is whispers in the Catalan press that the player has told Liverpool he won’t play for them again.
It happened in the summer. That time around, it was followed after a few days by a transfer request. This time around, we’ll have to wait to see if Barcelona press mouthpiece Sport are correct when they claim that the 25-year-old Brazilian isn’t really injured but has informed his current club he won’t play for them again.
Sport also, though, claim a deal is nearly done and so rather than sitting out to force a move this is Coutinho simply looking to ensure he stays fit for it. And on the Liverpool end, the story continues to be that Liverpool aren’t in discussions with Barcelona and no bid has actually been submitted by the Catalan club.
Last summer at least, of course, it turned out the Liverpool had their story right while the Catalan end was doing nothing more than filing aggressive PR spin for their club. But, for what it’s worth, the Catalan press are saying a deal is all but done and likely to end up in the €140M base plus €40M in add-ons region.
On paper, that seems like the kind of deal Liverpool might accept in the summer. It’s hard to see them accepting it now, though. Coutinho remains key to their top four chances, and as was the case last summer they’d still need to bring in a replacement—and, unlike RB Leipzig with Naby Keïta, there is no release clause in play.
Coutinho has four-and-a-half years to run on his contract and sat out in the summer trying to push through a move. Liverpool called his bluff then and stood up to Barcelona’s bullying, and there’s nothing materially different that’s changed in the meantime to make the result any different this time around.
Liverpool are heading to the knockout rounds of the Champions League—which Coutinho wouldn’t get to play in if he left—and need to secure top four for the season to be counted a success. Still, while Coutinho’s out injured, there will inevitably be talk, and the only thing likely to dull it at all is a return to action.