The Brazil forward tried to talk his compatriot into a move to Camp Nou, but those hopes have ended as the attacker is set for a new Liverpool deal
Barca’s Brazilian forward has spent months trying to convince Coutinho to link up with him at Camp Nou, where he would be able to play on one of football’s biggest stages alongside not only his close friend Neymar, but also another international team-mate in Rafinha and former Liverpool colleague Luis Suarez.
However, the 24-year-old is well aware of the difficulty of breaking into a side featuring Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar in attack, while he is also indebted to Liverpool for making him the player he is today.
Coutinho has often spoken of his happiness at Anfield and has been full of praise for manager Jurgen Klopp, under whom he has played his finest football since moving from Inter in 2013.
That tandem is now set to continue together as Coutinho prepares to sign a new contract with wages that will make him Liverpool’s highest-paid player as Neymar’s pleas fall on deaf ears – at least for the foreseeable future.
Barca will now need to look at alternatives for the summer window, having watched the Brazilian for many months and even sending sporting director Robert Fernandez to see the Brazilian play live against Villarreal in the Europa League last April.
Asked about the possibility of signing the Brazilian, Robert has always said: « Coutinho is a great player, but we already have a lot of midfielders. »
Barca are well stocked in the middle of the park following the arrivals of Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez last summer and with Sergo Roberto set to return to his natural position from right-back at some stage.
But Gomes has not completely convinced and Andres Iniesta is approaching the twilight of a glittering playing career and will be 33 in May, so Barca know they need to earmark a successor to the Spain star sooner or later.
Although Barca were interested in Coutinho all along, the Catalan club never had complete conviction that they could convince the 24-year-old to leave Liverpool at this point of his career – especially given the financial cost of the operation and the priority in renewing Messi’s contract.
Not even Neymar’s attempts at persuading Phil to join him at Camp Nou have succeeded and as Coutinho prepares to put pen to paper on a new long-term deal at Anfield, Barca will have to look elsewhere