Barcelona are reportedly eyeing Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho as one of their two candidates to replace the ageing Andres Iniesta.
The Mirror’s Alex Smith reported Barca want Coutinho and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti to replace Iniesta, who has “has hinted he will not stay at Barca past the end of his current deal.”
Iniesta’s contract is scheduled to expire at the end of next season, giving the Blaugrana roughly 18 months in which they have to find a contingency for if—or when—the Spanish icon, who turns 33 in May, finally departs his 17-year employers.
Coutinho has stood out as his side’s chief talisman when fit, but after seeing the Merseysiders drop off what did look to be a confident title challenge, the Brazilian has spoken of his trophy frustrations, per Anfield HQ:
Coutinho: "I’ll be honest & say I was hoping for better this season, the players here are very ambitious & our dream was to win the title."
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) March 18, 2017
In terms of football personality, Coutinho and Iniesta don’t really match up, with the former in fact a more attacking utility and PSG’s Verratti being the far more suitable match in finding a like-for-like replacement.
But that hasn’t prevented rumours linking Coutinho with a move to Catalonia from emerging, although Sunday Times writer Duncan Castles pointed out the maestro’s poor form in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City:
Another match in which Philippe Coutinho failed to play to his own very high standards. #MCILIV
— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) March 19, 2017
This Is Anfield recently depicted how Coutinho’s dip in performance, in fairness to the player, has come after a lengthy spell on the sidelines around the Christmas period, missing 10 games between November and January, pre Transfermarkt:
5️⃣ goals, 5️⃣ assists in 13 appearances pre-injury.
1️⃣ goal, 1️⃣ assist in 12 appearances post-injury.https://t.co/qH6qO1mCx6
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) March 15, 2017