A return to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho is somewhere between highly unlikely and nigh on impossible, yet it’s been impossible to ignore that over the past week the former Red has begun to be linked with a return.
Having struggled to settle at Barcelona and with the Catalan giants in the midst of a major summer spending spree, it’s not surprising he’s being discussed as a potential departure. And then, well, where would he go?
In England, Manchester City likely wouldn’t be interested. Chelsea might be but are dealing with a transfer ban. And word from the player’s camp has always been that, as Liverpool’s rivals, Manchester United aren’t an option.
“Every time we’ve spoken about it we’ve had that same conversation, he would find it hard to play for another club in the Premier League,” agent Kia Joorabchian told TalkSport when asked about potential destinations.
“Liverpool have built a tremendous squad. It’s probably one of the best run football clubs in the country. They would have to decide whether or not they feel there is now a current gap in the squad for someone like Philippe.
“I think it’s going to be a very difficult deal, but most of the big ones are very, very difficult. If he were to move back it would have to be Liverpool, but at the moment I think it would be difficult and it would be up to them.”
It would be difficult, and Liverpool may not have an obvious place for Coutinho in the squad, and it probably won’t ever happen—even without getting into concerns over cost or how the player engineered his move away.
That’s the sensible take; the reasonable reading. Yet this is Joorabchian’s second interview with the English press—following a talk with The Telegraph over the weekend—that has seemed to rule out everyone but Liverpool.
Meanwhile, on the continent, it’s hard to imagine Coutinho returning to Serie A or fitting in at Bayern Munich, which leaves only Paris Saint-Germain as an option there—and if that’s a move that can’t be made to work, then what?
Barcelona have signed Antoine Griezmann. They’ve signed Frenkie de Jong. They’re widely believed to be trying to sign Neymar. Coutinho may not—probably won’t—end up at Anfield again, but something surely needs to give.
“It would be very difficult for Philippe to play for any of Liverpool’s rivals,” Joorabchian added. “He has such a great affinity towards Liverpool. His time there was fantastic. His heart and affinity is very much with Liverpool.”