BARCELONA couldn’t afford Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho because of the way transfer fees have been inflated.
That’s the claim of Nou Camp president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who failed to get a deal over the line for the Brazil international this summer.
Coutinho emerged as one of the players Ernesto Valverde wanted to replace Neymar after the 25-year-old moved to PSG.
But Liverpool were determined not to let the playmaker leave and rejected three bids – with the heftiest coming in at £118m.
Bartomeu has now explained why Barcelona were unable to sign Coutinho, despite having plenty of money to spend in the wake of Neymar’s world-record departure.
Referring to the La Liga giants’ pursuit of Coutinho, Bartomeu told Catalunyan outlet 8tv: “If the market does not allow a move, then you can’t force one.
“The market is changing sizeably because there is money coming into it that isn’t from the world of football.”
Bartomeu insisted he was content with Barcelona’s transfer business though.
He added: ”I have no frustration with how the transfer period went, I’m very happy with our signings.
“We wanted a good right-back and Semedo arrived, Paulinho arrived in midfield and [Ousmane] Dembele as a Neymar replacement.
“I’m also delighted about Deulofeu’s return.”
Coutinho, meanwhile, made his first appearance of the season for Liverpool in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla.
Jurgen Klopp revealed yesterday that the former Inter Milan ace could start today’s showdown with Burnley.