Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has revealed that he is ‘counting on’ Philippe Coutinho to step up and play a big role this season after Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Coutinho has never really settled at Camp Nou since his blockbuster move from Liverpool in January 2018. He’s been on the fringes of the squad ever since and even spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.
The Brazil international has not yet been assigned a squad number by Barcelona for the 2021/22 campaign and has consistently been linked with a move away this transfer window, but Koeman insists he still has a role to play at the club.
“Philippe needs another week of training before being in the squad. For me, he’s a great player and he can be important for Barça. I am absolutely counting on him for this season,” Koeman said, as quoted by ESPN.
Milan are one club who hold an interest in Coutinho, though a move to San Siro has not yet materialised. Arsenal were also heavily linked as part of a swap deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the last week, but the Gunners completed the signing of attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard on Friday and so a deal for Coutinho looks unlikely.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta is expected to ask Coutinho to take a pay cut in light of the club’s financial problems – the Brazilian is now the club’s second-highest earner after Messi’s departure, with only Antoine Griezmann earning more.
While Coutinho is set to stay at Barcelona, it looks like 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba could be leaving after failing to agree terms on a new contract. RB Leipzig had an €8m bid for the midfielder turned down in recent days, with Barça holding out for a fee closer to €25m.
90min recently reported that the Bundesliga side were just one of several clubs interested in Moriba, who also has plenty of potential suitors in England.