Barcelona are thought to have offered Lionel Messi’s iconic number 10 shirt to Philippe Coutinho, who is currently not assigned a squad number at Camp Nou.
There have been calls for Barça to retire Messi’s shirt following his departure to Paris Saint-Germain, However, until others like Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti leave, it is currently the only number that is still available in the first-team squad, where shirts run from 1-24.
Coutinho wore 14 for Barça last season after his old number seven was previously re-assigned to Antoine Griezmann. But the 14 shirt has since been handed to Barcelona B graduate Rey Manaj, who was added to the club’s La Liga squad alongside Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia on Saturday.
Coutinho, who was left out of the opening game of the season against Real Sociedad on Sunday after only recently starting training following long-term injury, has been linked with a move to Arsenal this week as a possible makeweight in an approach for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But if the Brazilian is to stay, which still seems the more likely scenario at this stage with a minimal market for his signature, he will need a shirt if he is to play.
Mundo Deportivo writes that Barça have offered the number 10 shirt to him and he is ‘thinking about it’. Coutinho is said to be wary about piling extra pressure onto himself in already difficult circumstances by taking Messi’s shirt, but he hasn’t ruled it out and may have little choice if he is to be involved against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
The only alternative arrangement would be if Barça can secure exits for the aforementioned Pjanic, who is linked with Juventus, and Umtiti before the weekend and having to register a shirt for Coutinho. Their departures would free up the number eight and 23 shirts at Camp Nou.