Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been tipped to choose Arsenal ahead of other Premier League clubs should a January loan move away Camp Nou materialise.
Four years on from his transfer from Liverpool worth up to €160m, Coutinho has only been a bit-part player at Barcelona this season. He has started just five times in La Liga, with his prospects expected to get worse rather than better in the second half of the campaign.
Barça are in desperate need of trimming their wage bill as well, as it is the only way they will be able to afford to invest in the squad over the coming weeks.
SPORT explains that the Catalans understand a loan is the only option to move Coutinho out of the club at this stage of the season. It is said that the club is hoping the player will accept a salary cut to leave and that ‘any reduction’ would be beneficial – the upside is also that good performances while out on loan could push his market value up ahead of a permanent transfer in summer.
It is said that Barça have offered Coutinho to Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle. The Gunners were initially ‘suspicious’ when contact was first made but the Emirates Stadium has been described as the player and his agent’s preferred choice.
Newcastle is apparently already off the table as Coutinho isn’t convinced by the sporting project on offer at this moment in time – the Magpies are embroiled in a relegation fight.
With Arsenal the ideal, Barça are said to be willing to ‘try everything’ to offload Coutinho before the end of January. Crucially, SPORT adds that the club is ‘more optimistic’ about a deal being struck than they were a few weeks ago.