The chatter around Philippe Coutinho and Arsenal has increased this morning after an article in Mundo Deportivo which suggested we are ‘best placed’ to sign the midfielder.
However, closer examination of the story reveals that it’s still some way from being anything approach concrete.
The Catalan daily highlights the ‘great relationship’ between agent Kia Joorabchian and Arsenal’s Head of Football Raul Sanllehi – something we’re all well aware of at this stage. That would put us ahead of other reportedly interested Premier League suitors, Leicester City and Newcastle United.
Suggestions that a deal might involve the transfer of Matteo Guendouzi to Barcelona are played down, because the technical staff at the Camp Nou ‘absolutely rule out the midfielder … they don’t want him.’
The big issue appears to be money. Coutinho is on close to £250,000 a week following his £140m transfer from Liverpool in January 2018, and this is money they’d love to get off the books. The report says Barca ‘now want and need, money and only money’, and are thus reluctant to do any player swap deals.
This season, they got some of it back with Coutinho’s loan move to Bayern Munich, a deal which cost the German side an £8m loan fee + payment of the player’s wages in full, putting the entire operation well north of £20m for the season. In 23 Bundesliga appearances, he scored 8 goals, but of those 6 came against teams in the bottom five, and in 14 of those appearances made no contribution in terms of a goal or an assist.
With finances so tight due to revenue streams drying up because of Covid-19, Arsenal simply cannot afford to countenance that kind of expenditure for the services of a player for a single season. Even with some discount, it would be a poor allocation of scant resources.
One thing to keep an eye on though is Barcelona’s interest in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The same paper is reporting that Luiz Suarez has an offer from MLS, and it’s widely known the La Liga runners-up are keen to strengthen their strike force ahead of next season.
The Arsenal captain’s future is up in the air due to his contractual situation, so it’s not impossible that their desire for a striker might play a part in any further Coutinho discussions between Sanllehi’s former club, his current club, and his great friend Kia.
Bayern are still involved in Champions League action, so no decision over the Brazilian’s future is expected until that’s over. They face Chelsea on August 8th in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie with a 3-0 lead from the game which took place in March.
Let’s hope a Chelsea side demoralised from being beaten in the FA Cup final take another hammering.