Date: 22nd August 2017 at 8:24am
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After three unsuccessful offers the Catalans have reportedly admitted defeat in their efforts to sign Philippe Coutinho…

There may still be over a week left in the current transfer window, and Barcelona may still have the majority of the world record £200million they received from Paris Saint-Germain for Naymar burning a hole in their pocket, but their pursuit of Philippe Coutinho is said to be over.

Widespread reports on Monday, backed up by Spanish football expert Guillem Balague on Sky Sports, claim the Catalans have finally admitted defeat in their summer-long pursuit of the 25-year-old.

Liverpool categorically insisted the Brazilian midfielder was not for sale from the outset but that didn’t stop Barcelona from making three separate bids.

The most recent of which came on Friday evening and totalled £118million, although, according to the Liverpool ECHO, it comprised of ‘only’ £82m guaranteed and payable over four instalments. The other £36m was based on add-ons triggered by Champions League glory and Ballon d’Or triumphs.

By all accounts, and despite Coutinho belatedly submitting a transfer request, the bizarre makeup of the deal mattered little with no amount of money, guaranteed or otherwise, likely to persuade the club’s hierarchy to change their stance.

The former Inter Milan man’s feelings became public knowledge 24 hours prior to the 3-3 opening day draw at Watford and followed within hours of a statement from Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group which read: “No offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes.”

The suggestion is Barca, who had set Liverpool a 7pm Sunday deadline to accept their latest offer, will now focus on trying to acquire Ousmane Dembele, Jean Michael Seri and/or Angel Di Maria.

As for Coutinho, his reintroduction into the fold at Anfield is unlikely to happen for at least a couple of weeks with an international break on the horizon and the player currently struggling with a back injury.

Vital Comment
I still expect Barca to come back with another offer to be honest, especially after their deficiencies were glaringly exposed during the 5-1 aggregate Super Cup defeat to rivals Real Madrid recently. In addition to replacing Neymar, they know playmaker Andres Iniesta, who has a more similar style of play to Coutinho, is in the twilight of his career and out of contract at the end of the season. Hopefully they don’t of course and hopefully Coutinho will get over missing out on his dream move and show everyone why a club of Barca’s stature was interested in him in the first place. Winning over his team mates shouldn’t be too difficult but only time will tell if his relationship with manager J├╝rgen Klopp, or the supporters for that matter, has been irreparably damaged.


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