Philippe Coutinho has been told he will be a Barcelona player before the end of this week after Liverpool agreed a British and Spanish record transfer fee for the Brazil international. Barca will pay up to €160million for the attacking midfielder if all performance-related variables are met.
Coutinho was informed that Liverpool owner Fenway Sports Group had finally acceded to his request to exit the Anfield club before he left Merseyside on national team duty. The 25-year-old – who has not played for Liverpool since the beginning of August, missing a series of training sessions with what the club described as a “sore back” and illness – was yesterday declared “in perfect condition to play” by Brazil’s medical staff
Liverpool are understood to have asked Barcelona to delay the completion of Coutinho’s transfer to allow them to secure a replacement. Discussions have been held with AS Monaco over the purchase of Thomas Lemar, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains a cheaper option.
Liverpool face competition from Premier League rivals for both players. Chelsea have made a formal offer for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has entered the final year of his Arsenal contract. Jose Mourinho is interested in taking Lemar, a target for Arsene Wenger for most of this summer’s window. According to a Monaco source, the principality’s club owner is open to selling the France international.
On Monday, Liverpool completed an unorthodox deal to sign Guinea international Naby Keita from RB Leipzig in July 2018. They have paid a substantial premium on top of a €55m release clause that enters into effect ahead of next summer’s transfer window to guarantee the acquisition of the midfielder. The Bundesliga club refused to sell Keita this year.
Liverpool are also attempting to recruit a new centre-back before Thursday’s transfer deadline with Virgil van Dijk their number-one choice for a long standing problem position. Like Coutinho, Van Dijk has made a formal transfer request in an attempt to force Southampton to let him join one of several Premier League suitors.