Done deals, deadlines, and promised unveilings. Last summer regularly saw the Spain and Catalan press living in their own, alternate reality. A reality where Liverpool were willing to talk and a done deal was 48 hours away for the whole of August. It perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise they’re saying the same sorts of things now.
The question is whether, as was the case last summer, they’re making up stories out of whole cloth—or passing along ones so made—or whether, this time around, their reality might just be our reality. There’s a chance it is, as Liverpool do appear willing to talk now, but they still rather seem to be getting ahead of themselves.
They’ve taken another step towards an official unveiling that may or may not actually take place today with news that, following a successful house-hunting expedition to Barcelona last week, Coutinho has settled on the number seven currently worn by Arda Turan, who Barcelona are actively trying to offload this month.
He hasn’t managed to be linked with a Liverpool move yet, at least. Which is fairly surprising given over the summer half of Barcelona’s fringe first team players were used as supposed makeweights, and that in the past it had seemed hard to go a transfer without Turan being linked with an Anfield move. Not this time, though.
This time, it’s Everton where they’re meant to be shopping the 30-year-old who has yet to play this season as a pair of extended injuries and his fringe status have aligned to keep him out of the action entirely. That, though, is a problem for Barcelona and maybe Everton. For Liverpool, the question is Coutinho and, well, reality.
Because the two sides in this saga still don’t seem to be operating in the same one. On the Barca side, a deal is done and a house found and a shirt number chosen and the player will be unveiled by the end of the week. On the Liverpool end they’re more open to selling but still haven’t received an offer from Barcelona.
There’s another big difference. In the Spanish and Catalan reports, Coutinho is confident he’s played his final game for Liverpool and thinks a £96M guaranteed deal would get him. The briefed Liverpool journalists think the club want Coutinho around until the summer and have hinted at a fee closer to £150M.
We’ll find out a bit more about reality in the coming days—though the advantage to the story that Barcelona’s press outlets are selling is that if nothing happens in the next few days, they can just keep pushing back the timeline as they did in the summer. The Liverpool press, meanwhile, are left trying to prove a negative.