Barcelona have reportedly ‘parked’ their interest in Philippe Coutinho to focus on the signing of Marco Verratti. Sport claims the La Liga giants met with the Liverpool star’s agents in Brazil last week to inform them of a decision which would only be altered if the Catalans fail to sign the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder.
Coutinho, 25, has been persistently linked with a move to the Nou Camp over recent seasons amid a strong relationship with compatriot Neymar.
Earlier in May, Sport reported that the Liverpool star had given his blessing to a summer move after being identified as one of Barcelona’s top targets.
Coutinho has played in Liverpool’s attack since arriving at Anfield in 2013 but it was said that Barcelona officials believed that the Brazilian has the skills to adapt to a deeper role and become the long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta.
Sport anticipated that negotiations to lure him away from Liverpool were not going to be easy, with the Premier League club demanding around €90m (£79.1m, $100.6m) to cash in on the Brazilian international.
Jurgen Klopp publicly played down those talks, assuring that Liverpool would not negotiate Coutinho’s departure at any price after handing the player a new deal in January.
“When did he sign his new contract?” he said. “There are absolutely no plans (to sell). What our owners say is there is the absolute opportunity not to sell anybody if we do not want to. That means we can bring in other players and it is a good situation.
“We have a stable squad with a good basis. We want to bring a few in with fresh blood, but nobody will leave us without our say so I am completely relaxed about this.”
Liverpool’s hopes of keeping Coutinho at Anfield have been given a major boost amid fresh reports from Sport claiming that Barcelona no longer consider his signing as a priority.
— Diario SPORT (@sport) June 25, 2017
The Spanish publication claims that Barcelona have told Coutinho’s agent that they will only reactivate their interest in his signature if they fail to sign Verratti.
Sport claims that PSG have also expressed interest in Coutinho, but that the player would only consider leaving Liverpool to join Barcelona. Such a move looks now unlikely but, with two months remaining until the end of the transfer window, Sport point out that nothing can be completely ruled out.