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Ahead of the January transfer window opening, much of the talk in Barcelona is of a renewed attempt to secure the signature of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.
Ernesto Valverde has overseen a miraculously positive start to the domestic campaign and currently sits eight points clear of Real Madrid after 11 matches.
As a result, he will be backed in the winter market and will be given funds to strengthen his squad, the club’s primary target is still the Brazilian, although Liverpool are expected to rebuff any offer made before the end of the season.
Coutinho made clear his happiness at Anfield during the international break when he was quizzed on his future following a training session at Craven Cottage.
“I’m always happy, I am playing in one of the biggest leagues in the world and I am very content with my life,” he explained.
These aren’t the words of an unsettled footballer, although it is understood he still wishes to make the move to the Camp Nou.
Los Cules’ interest certainly had an impact on him during the summer when the transfer window was nearing its end, the former Internazionale playmaker did make several behind the scenes attempts to force his way out of the Merseyside club.
Ultimately they were not successful and he has started the current campaign in a positive fashion, despite missing the last three Liverpool matches through injury.
Liverpool’s season has not progressed in the way many had hoped, despite some fine football, an overreliance on Sadio Mane has once again appeared, as too has an embarrassingly porous defence. Poor results have left Liverpool out of the Premier League title picture and once again battling for Champions League qualification.
It is unclear what promises were made, if any, to the Brazilian in the summer in order to persuade him to stay at the club, yet Liverpool will not do business in January.
There is no benefit to Liverpool for such a deal to take place before the end of the season, in truth the Reds’ midfield is actually lacking balance when Coutinho plays, however until Naby Keita arrives next summer it would be foolish for the club to allow themselves to be weakened further.
There is a great degree of frustration with regards to transfers at Melwood at this moment; the summer window was not the roaring success that those in charge at Liverpool had expected.
The defence was not strengthened adequately and we are still seeing the results of that on a regular basis.
Losing Coutinho in January would be an admission that the club’s aims for the season can’t be reached. Jurgen Klopp wanted a title challenge this term and unless something miraculous happens, he won’t get one.
Coutinho leaving would also put their top four hopes at risk, simply due to the individual quality that he brings to the table.
The Merseyside club have no intention of weakening their team midway through a season, especially as their focus is currently being taken up with negotiations for Emre Can’s contract extension.
Whether or not Barcelona will make as serious an attempt to sign the Brazilian in the winter remains unclear, there is interest but finances at the Camp Nou are not as positive as many would have you believe.
This is not to say the club are in any danger, but after the hugely expensive signing of Ousmane Dembele, a move for the Brazilian may well need to be funded by the respective sales of Arda Turan and Denis Suarez.
Furthermore Coutinho is cup-tied in the Champions League and would not be able to represent the Blaugrana in that competition until next season. Many supporters would also question the move given the club’s incredible start to the domestic season and the fact Andres Iniesta has recently penned a new deal of his own.
Meanwhile there is not expected to be any significant business with regards to incoming business for the Anfield club, Coutinho will not leave in the winter but it is unlikely that Virgil van Dijk will arrive either.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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