Losing one of your best players is never a good thing – for any football club. That is, of course, a bit of an obvious statement – adequately replacing your star turn is either never easy, or never cheap – often times, both apply.
So with Barcelona reportedly planning for life after Neymar – who could be set to move to PSG for a frankly obscene £197m fee – they are said to have turned their attentions to the Premier League to find the man capable of filling the Brazilian’s boots.
Tottenham star Dele Alli is one name linked, while Chelsea’s resurgent Eden Hazard has also been mooted despite constantly flirting with Real Madrid. The one that will not go away, however, is that Barcelona could look to fill their impending Neymar-shaped void with the £80m acquisition of Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.
That transfer fee appears to be the sticking point – Barcelona want a deal for more like £60m. Kop boss Jurgen Klopp, however, doesn’t want to lose Neymar’s international team-mate for any sum of money. And why would he?
He was Liverpool’s biggest fantasy points scorer last season. Of course, that reason directly won’t influence Klopp’s opinion, but the stats do reflect his contributions to a team that looked considerably more dangerous with the 25-year-old in the team.
He scored 13 goals and provided seven assists last season. That’s 20 goals he was directly involved in one way or another – and with a 9.00m valuation in the EFL game he seemed cheap at half the price. Or just over a tenth of the price, if you like.
His discipline was also just short of exemplary. He picked up two bookings from his 31 appearances (28 of which were starts), and this was all done in one of the most prestigious leagues in world football. Swapping the red shirt of Premier League side Liverpool for the red and blue shirt of La Liga giants Barcelona would be a fantastic move for the former Inter Milan star.
Just on an interesting point, he outscored Neymar in the EFL game last season too – his tally of 82 beating Neymar’s 66.
His link-up with new team-mate Lionel Messi, as well as a reunion with Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, offers almost as tantalising a team sheet as one with Neymar himself on it. Liverpool stars who have left for Barcelona in recent years – namely Suarez and Javier Mascherano – have tended to go on and do well. Coutinho seems primed – both ability-wise and age-wise – to make it a hat-trick and go on to help the Catalans compete at the highest level of European football for years to come.
For such potential continued success, Barca may be silly to baulk at the reported £80m and just stump up the cash. It could prove the best bit of business since the arrivals of Suarez and Ivan Rakitic back in the summer of 2014.
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