Who will sign Philippe Coutinho next? His £145m move to Barcelona went from a dream to a nightmare… now, Manchester United lead Leicester, Chelsea and Tottenham in trying to bring him back to the Premier League
- Philippe Coutinho is attracting interest from a host of Premier League sides
- Manchester United are said to be leading the race to sign the Brazilian playmaker
- Leicester, Chelsea and Tottenham have also been credited with interest in him
- With his Barcelona future in serious doubt, Sportsmail assesses his options
Few elite players are heading into the summer with their future as uncertain as Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho.
Having struggled at the Catalan club following his £145million move from Liverpool in January 2018, the Brazilian has attempted to rediscover the form that earned him such a move by going out on loan to Bayern Munich.
He he has scored eight goals in 22 Bundesliga games – but the club are unlikely to make his deal permanent and so he faces a return to Barcelona, where he has three years left to run on his current deal.
A less-than-impressive loan at Bayern Munich has left Philippe Coutinho’s future up in the air
He has three years left on his deal at Barcelona but the club may opt to just cut their losses
With Quique Setien appearing ready to move on without the 27-year-old, it appears the Spanish side will cut their losses and move on from the player entirely.
That leaves the door ajar for a return to the Premier League, and while it would be unlikely that he makes a homecoming to join Jurgen Klopp and some of his old Liverpool team-mates, he is unlikely to be short of suitors.
Manchester United are reportedly leading a host of rival clubs to acquire him, despite the immediate success of January recruit Bruno Fernandes.
Chelsea, Tottenham and even Leicester City, managed by Brendan Rodgers, who worked with Coutinho at Liverpool, are others credited with an interest in the playmaker. And so with that in mind, Sportsmail looks at which club suits Coutinho for his next move and where he would fit best upon a return to England.
Despite a shift in transfer strategy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United are still some way off challenging for the Premier League.
Sat 37 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, nobody inside Old Trafford needs reminding that there is still work to do on the current squad and even with Coutinho’s flunk at Barcelona he remains a quality operator at club and international level.
United have shown a preference to deploy a 4-3-3 and he could work in a No 8 role in a super-attacking team, combining with international team-mate Fred or the more solid Scott McTominay, as well as January signing Bruno Fernandes, should Paul Pogba depart and leave a spot open.
Any move to Manchester United would see Coutinho (left) link up with fellow Brazilian, Fred
United may turn to Coutinho if they are unable to pull off a deal for English star Jadon Sancho
Alternatively, should Solskjaer look to provide a 4-2-3-1 system, Coutinho would provide an upgrade on Andreas Pereira and an ageing Juan Mata, who turns 32 in April.
The arrival – and success – of Fernandes is unlikely to make Coutinho a priority in the summer and former United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has urged his old side to overlook the 27-year-old.
A lot could depend on what happens with Pogba and whether United and Solskjaer are successful in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.
It is a case of wait and see on this one, although a loan deal would represent a superb, low-risk option for a club with serious financial might.
Chances of joining: 4/5
A few years ago, this would have appeared nothing more than an April Fools Day joke.
But the Foxes have transformed into a Champions League side in recent years and have shown no sign of slowing down under Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers has previous with Coutinho, having worked closely with him during his time as Liverpool manager.
That rapport would likely have to be incredibly strong if Coutinho was to agree to a move to the King Power stadium this summer.
Should he elect to join Leicester City, the playmaker would be reunited with Brendan Rodgers
James Maddison is the creative force in the Leicester City side but he may be enticed away
In a 4-1-4-1 system that has been used on occasion this season, it has been Youri Tielemans and James Maddison that have provided the artillery behind lone striker Jamie Vardy.
Mounting interest in Maddison, namely from Manchester United and Tottenham, could provide Leicester with significant funds to try and pull off a real coup for the club and get Coutinho out of Barcelona.
Rodgers’ free-flowing football suits Coutinho’s game and the Northern Irishman is unlikely to be too concerned with this sustained dip in form since he last left English shores.
In Leicester of all places, stranger things have happened…
Chances of joining: 1/5
For having Chelsea fourth at the time of the league-wide suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, having lost Eden Hazard before he arrived and been working under a transfer ban, Frank Lampard deserves credit.
He has placed his faith in a host of the club’s young players and they have largely repaid that faith with consistent performances.
Frank Lampard is looking to put his own stamp on Chelsea now he is able to sign players
But now Lampard is ready to put his stamp on the side, build it in his image, and with the transfer of Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech already agreed, there appears to be a focus on fleshing out the club’s attacking options.
Tammy Abraham has had to shoulder a lot of the responsibility and while a No 9 is paramount this summer, with both Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi appearing to be surplus to requirements, attacking midfield would be desirable.
Ross Barkley and Mason Mount have managed to largely stay fit and perform but Coutinho, if Lampard could coax out the form fans saw during his final days at Liverpool, would prove a major asset.
He is smart on the ball, can work well under pressure due to his close control and he would be able to help shoulder the burden of responsibility for Abraham.
The issue would be that any big-money signing for the Brazilian may seen as harmful to Mount’s development given Coutinho would likely require some form of guarantee that he would be a leading player in the side.
Mason Mount has impressed from midfield and Coutinho would have to compete with him
Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 system would suit the player and the signing of Ziyech, 27, gives the impression that Lampard is ready to balance his batch of young stars with some experienced, Champions League quality team-mates in a bid to close the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City.
Having come out the other side of their transfer ban, fans will be craving a big signing. Coutinho could be it.
Chances of joining: 3/5
Jose Mourinho was in charge at the San Siro in 2008 when Inter Milan struck a deal with Vasco da Gama for Coutinho.
The pair never got to work closely together but that could all change this summer with this current Tottenham side in desperate need of a makeover.
‘I trained with Inter for two days when I went to sign,’ Coutinho told Sportsmail in 2015.
‘I met Mourinho and had a couple of conversations with him. He was helpful because it was someone who spoke Portuguese. I never got the chance to work with him as he left in the summer I joined. By then, Rafa Benitez had come in. He was very helpful. Training was good but I didn’t play well at Inter. I didn’t have confidence.’
Jose Mourinho will look to add greater creativity to Tottenham’s ranks in the off season
Both Coutinho and Mourinho are at different stages of their careers now.
The player cannot afford to get his next move wrong and for Mourinho, failing at Tottenham could well signal the end of his time as a Premier League manager.
The departure of Christian Eriksen, who left in January to join Inter Milan, has freed up a spot in the No 10 role and Coutinho would add some zip and quality alongside Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min.
Versatility would be the key word across the three behind Harry Kane with Son, Moura and Coutinho having shown that they are comfortable right across that front line – all have at times been used as a false No 9.
Spurs are crying out for a makeover having parted with Mauricio Pochettino earlier in the season and while Nemanja Matic and other Mourinho favourites will be the likelier arrivals, Coutinho to Tottenham could be the only move that makes sense this summer.
If they fail to qualify for the Champions League, however, that could change. And it all relies on notoriously tight chief Daniel Levy being willing to put his hand in his pocket. That is two very big ifs.
Chances of joining: 3/5
Coutinho (left, pictured in 2010) moved to Inter Milan the summer that Mourinho left the club
Football is full of romantic returns, fans allowing their anger to cease before welcoming back their former charge with open arms.
But Liverpool are a different side to the one that Coutinho departed to secure his ‘dream’ move to Barcelona.
They are European champions. They are Premier League champions in waiting.
Klopp’s side is one of the most difficult to break into in world football and so given his steep decline since leaving Anfield, any return to Liverpool would, perhaps, appear very unlikely.
Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are a settled front three and players in far greater form than Coutinho are finding it impossible to break them up.
In the midfield areas, Liverpool are well stocked and even with some departures expected, a homecoming for the Brazilian appears increasingly unlikely. This may be a case of both parties looking forward, instead of back.
Chances of joining: 1/5
While he was loved during his time at Liverpool, any return to Anfield seems highly unlikely
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