Barcelona hope to find a buyer for Philippe Coutinho this summer so they can clear their debt to Liverpool and start moving forward.
The Catalan side agreed a deal worth a whopping £142m to lure Coutinho away from Liverpool in January 2018, but he has failed to come anywhere close to living up to the hype and spent last season out on loan with Bayern Munich, who declined to make the move permanent.
According to Sport, Barcelona still owe Liverpool close to £43m from his transfer – a fee which club officials are keen to avoid paying out considering they are facing debts of close to £1bn at the moment.
They might be interested if Coutinho was justifying the expense, but given his return of three goals and two assists in an injury-hit campaign, Barcelona would prefer to wash their hands with the whole thing and get him gone this summer.
The thing is, Barcelona have been trying to sell Coutinho for years. Nobody has really shown much interest – the Spanish press were adamant he could have replaced Eden Hazard at Chelsea – but the idea of spending so much money on a player who has disappointed enormously isn’t exactly high on any radars.
However, there is some optimism this year. On top of lowering their asking price from around £100m to closer to that £43m, Barcelona hope that Coutinho might prove his worth at this summer’s Copa America, which might convince someone to meet their demands and take Coutinho off their hands.
Barcelona are well aware that they are inevitably going to make a massive loss on the 28-year-old, but with Joan Laporta keen to usher in a new era at Camp Nou, the hope is that they can simply cut their losses, pay the debts and move on.
On top of paying Liverpool, selling Coutinho would also see Barcelona part ways with their third-highest earner and free up an enormous chunk in the budget as a result. As a result, the loss from the entire transfer will be easier to swallow.
It’s suggested that Coutinho might not be the only forward heading for the exit door at Camp Nou, and while this report doesn’t name names, a lot of rumours from elsewhere suggest that Antoine Griezmann (the second-highest earner) and Martin Braithwaite could be on the chopping block.
Laporta is understood to be keen to rebuild his squad around Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, and with any deal for the Norwegian likely to cost well over £100m, cutting ties with people like Coutinho seems inevitable.