Coutinho to Barca? Three reasons why Liverpool need to stand firm

Philippe Coutinho’s future at Liverpool has been cast into doubt as Barcelona are ready to splash the cash on the Brazilian. The La Liga giants have already had a £72 million bid rejected, but they’ll do whatever they can to bring Coutinho to Barca this summer.

An improved £80 million bid is being lined up, according to the Daily Mirror, so this could well be a transfer saga that lasts for the remainder of the window.

Barcelona have long been admirers of Coutinho. Many feel he is the perfect man to replace Andres Iniesta at the Nou Camp. But it’s Neymar’s potential world-record move to PSG that has accelerated the chase for the Liverpool playmaker.

Paris Saint-Germain are seemingly set to trigger Neymar’s £196m release clause, shattering the transfer record by £107m. That would leave Barcelona with a big void to fill in their squad, but a lot of money to fill it with.

But no matter what, Liverpool won’t want to lose their star attacker. Here are three reasons Liverpool need to hold on to Coutinho this summer:

1. ‘Not a selling club’

The club have insisted they are “not a selling club” and won’t be forced to sell. Jurgen Klopp made that very clear after news of the initial bid surfaced. He spoke directly to Coutinho about the issue during the team’s preseason tour at the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong, and he believes the Reds have no reason to part ways with the Brazilian.

It’s now crucial for Liverpool to stand by that statement. Their fans will be concerned with interest from a club as big as Barca. But if Liverpool want to continue improving, as they have made clear, they must stand by their word.

2. A worrying trend following big sales

Liverpool’s three biggest sales in club history are Fernando Torres, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez. All three were sold over the past seven seasons, but the Reds have tended to struggle after losing key men.

In Torres’s final season at Anfield, Liverpool finished 6th. The following season, they finish 8th. In Luis Suarez’s final season at the club, Liverpool hand one hand on the 2013/14 Premier League title before a late collapse saw them finish runners-up. After he left for Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Liverpool went on to finish 6th. That was in Raheem Sterling’s final season. Then, after he departed for Man City Liverpool ended up finishing 8th in the first season without him.

The trend is that Liverpool have worse seasons after losing star players. Yes, that will be the case for most clubs. Yes, it’s difficult to build once a star man has left. But some clubs cope, Liverpool have so far proven they cannot. Losing Coutinho to Barca would be potentially disastrous for what Klopp is building.

Buy Classic Liverpool Shirts

Get 10% off all classic Liverpool shirts by using the code CFSAW10 on classicfootballshirts.co.uk

3. Irreplaceable

The reason the Coutinho to Barca rumours have picked up so much pace is because there are arguably very few, if any suitable replacements for Neymar at the Nou Camp. Coutinho is excellent on the ball. He is highly versatile. He has the ability to beat a man with ease. And he is as good at finding the back of the net as he is a teammate. Barcelona know that he would be well suited to replacing the goals and assists Neymar provides.

So if Liverpool were to sell, there is no obvious answer as to who they’d bring in as his replacement. Yes, they’d have a big stack of cash to spend. But given the inflated prices during the current transfer window, Liverpool would likely have to settle for someone a lot less talented that Coutinho if they needed to replace him.

Advertisements

How Liverpool could benefit from Barcelona swap deal if Coutinho leaves this summer

Barcelona are not giving up hope of luring Liverpool’s star playmaker Philippe Coutinho to the Nou Camp this summer, despite the fact the 24-year-old Brazilian penned a new five-year contract in January.

Coutinho became the Reds’ highest-paid player just a couple of months ago but it has done little to stop Barca from pursuing his signature as they look to strengthen this summer.

The Liverpool star is seen as an ideal replacement for Iniesta, who is approaching the end of his career and has yet to sign a new deal with the Catalan giants.

Don’t miss: Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

Embed from Getty Images

Liverpool fans won’t want to imagine life without Coutinho at Anfield. His creativity is a huge asset to the side as he can operate behind the striker or out on the left wing, thriving in both roles under Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds will need even more depth next season as they prepare for life back in Europe – whether that be the Champions League or Europa League – so losing Coutinho is a scenario Klopp will be trying not to think about.

But if the player wants to link up with former Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez, Brazilian pal Neymar and Lionel Messi it will be difficult to keep him. But there is still a way Liverpool could benefit from the loss of their No.10 as Barca could allow their own 24-year-old Brazilian playmaker to depart in the coming months.

Embed from Getty Images

Rafinha is reportedly being chased by Arsenal, Juventus and most interestingly Liverpool as he has been unable to nail down a guaranteed starting place with Barca. He has played 27 times in all competitions this season but has only started 17 of those matches and his chances of bettering that tally would be significantly hampered if Coutinho were to join the club this summer.

Barca would be willing to let Rafinha leave if the right offer came in, just as they did with his brother Thiago Alcantara who joined Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich in 2013. Liverpool would surely move to the front of the queue for Rafinha if the two clubs were already in discussions regarding Coutinho.

16/17 League Stats
Appearances
Goals
Assists
Chances Created Per 90 Mins
Pass Accuracy
Coutinho
22
6
5
2.67
83%
Rafinha
17
6
2
1.18
92%

Both Rafinha and Coutinho have scored six league goals this season, with the Liverpool ace picking up three more assists. Although he has played five more games and has racked up 523 more minutes than the Barca man.

Coutinho creates more chances for his teammates per 90 minutes than Rafinha, although his passing accuracy isn’t as good, with the Barca academy product only misplacing 39 passes in La Liga all season.

Losing Coutinho would undoubtedly worry Reds fans but if they can negotiate a swap deal with Barcelona for Rafinha they could still be in a position to challenge at the top end of the Premier League next season. They would also be able to free up some space on the wage bill to pursue other targets as they prepare for a busier schedule in the 2017/18 campaign.

Would Rafinha be a good replacement for Coutinho at Liverpool if Barcelona come in for the Reds star this summer?

Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

New York City FC will not have given up hope on signing Barcelona Andres Iniesta just yet, with Spanish outlet Don Balon claiming the midfielder has rejected an offer from the Chinese Super League worth £28 million per season ($35 million).

Iniesta has just over a year remaining on his current Barca contract. The club’s sporting director Robert Fernandez has claimed the World Cup winner will renew with the club he has spent his entire career at but he has yet to put pen to paper.

“He will renew at the moment he chooses,” Fernandez said. “Andres deserves the best. He grew here as a player and he’s given everything for the club. I can’t imagine a Barcelona without him and he can’t either.”

Embed from Getty Images

Fernandez is right. It is tough to imagine Barcelona without Iniesta and while it looks likely he will see out his illustrious career with the Blaugrana, there is still a chance that he could be tempted to finish his playing career in MLS alongside his former club and Spanish teammate David Villa.

Rejecting a big-money offer from China suggests the eight-time La Liga champion is not solely interested in securing a big pay packet before hanging up his boots. NYCFC have reportedly offered Iniesta a ‘blank cheque’ when it comes to any possible contract negotiations but they can offer more than just money, with David Villa likely to be the deal breaker if he does indeed make the move stateside.

The 2016 MLS MVP has previously encouraged his former teammate to “share the American experience” with him in New York City, although Villa will be 36 by the time Iniesta’s contract expires at Barcelona and surely in one of his final seasons himself.

Embed from Getty Images

The catch here is that the only way it seems Iniesta joins NYCFC is if Andrea Pirlo hangs his own boots up at the end of the year. The Italian maestro will turn 38 in May and only has nine months remaining on his current MLS deal – while the same applies for Villa.

It’s quite feasible to assume Pirlo will retire at the end of the year, leaving NYCFC with a free Designated Player slot as well as a healthy amount of money to spend on wages for a direct replacement. That replacement could then be Iniesta.

Embed from Getty Images

Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but the Barca star will have to adapt to life under a new head coach once Luis Enrique departs this summer. He’s also only played 791 minutes in La Liga this season and is on track to play fewer league games than in any of the previous 12 seasons, proving that his role is shifting as his age becomes a factor.

The NYCFC door appears to be open, it’s just a question of if that door is more appealing than a new Barca contract for Iniesta.

Do you think we’ll ever see Iniesta playing in MLS? Or will he remain with Barcelona for the rest of his career?

Messi and Ronaldo to meet in Miami as El Clasico heads stateside this summer

The two biggest clubs in world football will go head-to-head in Miami this summer, with Real Madrid and Barcelona gearing up for just the second ever El Clasico to be played outside of Spain.

Some of the game’s biggest stars – including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – are expected to be on show as the Spanish giants prepare to face off in the 2017 International Champions Cup series. The game will be played on Saturday July 29 in front of over 60,000 people at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.

It will be the first time El Clasico has ever been played on American soil and will be just the second time the rivalry has been played outside of Spain, with the only previous meeting abroad coming 35 years ago in Venezuela.

Barcelona will have their famous MSN trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at their disposal, while Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make the game, despite his involvement in the Confederations Cup in Russia a month before.

Embed from Getty Images

It’s another huge boost for an ever-growing soccer audience in the USA and particularly for Miami, considering the continuous troubles with the attempts to get David Beckham’s MLS Expansion Franchise off the ground.

It would be an incredible day to announce that Miami is finally set to get an MLS team, but we’ll try not to get too ahead of ourselves on that one.

However, it is highly likely that either Barcelona or Real Madrid will be the opponent for the 2017 MLS All-Star match, which is set to take place in Chicago just four days after the game in Miami.

Wenger labels side ‘naive’ as Arsenal rue missed chances in Barcelona defeat

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was left frustrated after watching his side suffer a 2-0 first leg defeat at the hands of current Champions League holders FC Barcelona on Tuesday night.

Barcelona came into the game unbeaten in 32 matches but were frustrated by a resilient display from the Gunners for the first 70 minutes. However, eventually their quality shone through as Lionel Messi grabbed himself a brace to give the Spanish giants a huge advantage heading into the second leg.

Wenger believes his side were once again naive and the Frenchman was frustrated that they couldn’t open the scoring in what was an open contest.

“Technically we were very average,” Wenger said after the game. “The regret I have is, despite looking like we dominated the game, we gave a goal away in the last 15 minutes, similar to Monaco; naive and that’s what is frustrating. When we looked like we could win this game we just gave it away.”

Wenger added that his players looked tired, which will worry Arsenal fans as they have a hectic upcoming schedule in the Premier League title race.

“It’s too easy to blame, you have to respect the effort the players have put in but it’s very frustrating at the moment, we looked like we were tired. I knew before the game in the last 20 minutes we’d have a chance to win the game if we didn’t make any mistakes and that’s the frustration of the night.”

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal’s vice captain, Per Mertesacker, made a mistake leading up to the Barcelona penalty which made the score 2-0. He rued his sides missed chances and highlighted the main focus for now must be the Premier League.

“It’s a tough go for us now, we had to score at one point here,” the German said.

“You would never keep them quiet for 90 minutes that was for sure. We tried our best but we didn’t deserve it because we had enough chances to score at least one.

“We have to concentrate on the Premier League now and then in one month we are facing Barcelona again with the same bravery and same courage. We still have a little chance, we don’t give up.”

Could Arsenal’s ‘naivety’ cost them in the Premier League title race?

Manchester United great reveals good news ahead of preseason tour

Manchester United great, Denis Irwin, believes Louis Van Gaal‘s organisation of the club’s preseason tour in the US will benefit the side.

Van Gaal was unable to have much of a say on his side’s America tour last summer due to his involvement with Holland in the World Cup.

But the United manager has made certain there will not be a repeat of the travelling ahead of the new season and Irwin told manutd.com the squad will be under less strain as a result.

Embed from Getty Images

“Last year he came in late because of how well the Dutch team did at the World Cup, so it wasn’t his tour in terms of preparation.

“This time he’s been able to organise it himself, organise the distances we travel, where we stay, where we train and also organise having the matches four days apart.”

United face Club America on July 17, followed by Major League Soccer outfit, San Jose Earthquakes on July 21 before two showdown clashes against Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain on July 25 and 29.

Irwin feels Van Gaal’s preparation is spot on and that the players will ready to come up against some tough opposition.

“His preparation is unique because of the amount of detail there is to it. He’ll be looking forward to it and the way the games are with Barcelona and PSG as the final two means it’ll get tougher as the tour goes on, but the players’ fitness will also improve so the set-up will be exactly how the manager wants it.”

Embed from Getty Images

United faced five opponents in their last preseason, with games spaced closer together. A hectic 11 day period saw them play five games against LA Galaxy, Roma, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Liverpool between July 24 and August 5, whereas this summer they play four sides across 12 days.

Will a less hectic preseason help Manchester United ahead of their 2015/16 campaign?

Arsenal set to raid FC Barcelona for second successive summer

Arsenal could sign FC Barcelona‘s Pedro Rodriguez for as little as £10 million, according to Fichajes.net.

Last summer’s marquee signing of Alexis Sanchez has proved to be great business by Arsene Wenger and it looks as if he could be set to raid the Catalans for a second pre season in succession.

Pedro has seen his game time limited this season and a number of clubs are interested in signing the Spanish World Cup winner, but he could favour a move to link up with former teammate Sanchez.

The 27-year-old cannot be blamed for wanting a new challenge as he has played second fiddle to Barca’s deadly trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Embed from Getty Images

At just £10 million, Pedro would be an absolute bargain for any potential new club and he will certainly be looking to move somewhere where he is guaranteed playing time and Champions League football.

The skilful winger boasts an impressive trophy cabinet, with the likes of the World Cup and Champions League winners medals, and he has a wealth of experience.

In 2010 he scored Barca’s opener against Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley and is still just as sharp and calm in front of goal.

Pedro has scored six times this season in 34 league appearances, 20 of which are from the bench and it looks likely that he will be moving on this summer for a new challenge at a cut-price.

Will Pedro leave FC Barcelona this summer and is Arsenal a possible destination?

Manchester United favourites to sign Barcelona star

FC Barcelona wing-back, Dani Alves, is set to depart the Catalan club this summer when his contract expires and Manchester United are now the frontrunners to secure his services after Paris Saint-Germain have dropped out of the running according to the Daily Express.

Paris Saint-Germain’s interest in signing the Brazil star has been brought to an end, according to club chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

“PSG were interested in Alves for a long time, but we aren’t anymore,” he told L’Equipe.

Manchester United are on the hunt for another full-back and are also interested in signing Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne.

Embed from Getty Images

Dani Alves, 31, would be a costly addition to the side, with United apparently willing to offer him in excess of £150,000-a-week.

Alves, who has been at Barcelona for seven years, has a wealth of experience. He has won some of football’s most prestigious accolades, including two Champions League and four La Liga titles.

Louis Van Gaal is keen to bring in another right-back as Rafael has just over a year remaining on his current deal and has not featured enough for the Red Devils this season, after struggling with injuries.

Would Dani Alves be a good signing for Manchester United this summer?

Liverpool plotting double raid on Barcelona for exciting duo

As the Raheem Sterling saga continues at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers is apparently monitoring potential replacements for the English winger, and could turn to Spanish giants FC Barcelona for options.

Spanish international, Pedro could be on the move this summer after he is reportedly frustrated with his lack of playing time at the club. It comes as no surprise with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez ahead of him in the pecking order.

Pedro has a wealth of experience and he has already won some of the world’s most prestigious trophies. The 27-year-old attacker won the World Cup twice and a European Championship with Spain, and he has also won the Champions League with Barcelona twice, scoring against Manchester United in the 2011 final.

Embed from Getty Images

Pedro spoke to ESPN earlier this week about his frustration and long-term interest from Liverpool could tempt him away this summer.

“When you do not have playing time, of course you do not feel one of the important players.

“Playing few games, not many minutes, it is normal that there can be talk of leaving, that is logical. It is the same for all players, everyone wants to play. When you do not play in important games, then it is a difficult situation.”

This is the biggest hint Pedro has dropped so far that he is considering leaving the club and at 27, he could hold the key to what Rodgers’ side need to push for European football again next season.

The Metro have reported that Liverpool are also interested in former Everton loanee, Gerard Deulofeu, who is still contracted to Barcelona. The winger is set to be sold this summer upon returning to his parent club after a loan spell at Sevilla.

Embed from Getty Images

The Catalan youngster showed his potential at Everton but struggled to tie down a regular first team place, which has been the story of his career so far. If given the chance for an extended run in the squad, his real talent could emerge.

Liverpool are hoping to tie down Raheem Sterling to a new contract but won’t negotiate a deal until the summer, and with top clubs around Europe circling, they will need to have possible replacements lined up.

Could Liverpool sign both Pedro and Gerard Deulofeu this summer?