Manchester United have been linked with a summer approach for Barcelona midfielder and former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, although the (farfetched) story from Spain claims interest hinges on the Old Trafford club sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and hiring Mauricio Pochettino.
Coutinho’s career has badly stagnated since he secured a dream move to Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018, becoming the third most expensive player in the world in the process.
The 27-year-old Brazilian has had a reasonable season in Germany, but hasn't produced enough for Bayern to justify triggering their €120m option to make it a permanent deal.
Whether Coutinho would be willing to return to English football owing to his obvious connections with Liverpool has previously been a source of uncertainty. It may appeal depending on the club, with new gossip this week claiming he was prepared to join Tottenham last summer before he went to Munich, only for the deal not to materialise in the end.
More gossip originating from Spain suggests there was interest from Old Trafford last summer as well, but that option is said to be ‘absolutely closed’ as far as Coutinho himself is concerned, with United thought to be the only club he considers off the table.
What makes any such shock move to Manchester even more unlikely is that the report in question suggests that United ‘could return’ for him if, and it is a pretty chunky ‘if’ at this moment time, Pochettino is in the Old Trafford hotseat next season.
That would mean Solskjaer has to be sacked, and while that might have been conceivable several weeks ago, the Norwegian is now much more secure in his job after a string of positive results and has had the backing of the United hierarchy as part of an ongoing long-term plan.
Speaking as the club released its latest financial results recently, United chief Ed Woodward
said, “The foundation for delivering the long-term success that we are all working towards is in place as we implement our plan and our footballing vision with Ole.”
Chelsea Interest Is More Plausible
Chelsea have already been linked with Coutinho in the past, but SPORT has now claimed they have now gone further and made contact with Barcelona to gauge the conditions of a potential loan deal next season, as well as touching base with the player’s camp to learn of his intentions.
SPORT concedes that Barcelona will not get the €90m (£82m) they are seeking for a permanent transfer and it said that Chelsea would only make a loan offer on the same terms as Bayern.
Between a loan fee and paying Coutinho’s full wages, it would come at a cost of €30m (£27.5m).
Coutinho is said to be ‘comfortable’ at Bayern, although Barcelona would not consider doing a second loan deal with the same club because their greater intention is to sell him.