Philippe Coutinho could end up staying at Barcelona beyond this summer, with Coach Quique Setien calling him a ‘great player’ and stating: ‘I’m counting on him’.
Last week, a report in Diario Sport claimed that the Catalan club and Chelsea were locked in negotiations for a loan deal with a compulsory purchase option included.
Representatives of Chelsea have reportedly contacted the player’s agents regarding a transfer this year and the Blues hope to pounce on the indecision over the Brazilian’s future.
Bayern Munich – where Coutinho is currently on loan – have an option to buy the Brazil international for €120m at the end of the campaign but multiple reports suggest this will not be exercised.
“I think Coutinho is a great player,” Setien told RAC1, via the London Evening Standard. “I like him a lot. He’s a player who, in principle, is Barcelona’s.
“Any team that wants him has to pay his clause (€400m) or a certain amount to Barca.
“I’m counting on him to be here at the start of next season. I don’t know what he wants to do.
“Perhaps I have to speak to him and ask him. He is a great player, without doubt.”
Barcelona are said to be keen on selling the former Liverpool star this year to raise vital funds, while the player is said to have little interest in returning to Inter or joining Paris Saint-Germain and instead is keen on a move to England.
Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and even Leicester City are all said to hold an interest for Coutinho, but Chelsea are ahead of them all in their intentions.
The good relationship between the Europa League holders and Coutinho’s representative, Kia Joorabchian, is said to be key.
A report in El Mundo Deportivo last month claimed the Catalan giants have lowered their asking price for the playmaker to €80m as they look to balance their books.
Coutinho has netted eight goals and provided multiple assists in 15 league starts for the Bavarian club, while the recent report stresses the good relations between the two clubs which could help smooth a permanent move this year.
The Brazilian scored 21 goals in 76 outings for Barcelona after moving in a club record €160m fee from Liverpool in January 2018.