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Liverpool will keep star man Philippe Coutinho this summer if Barcelona sign Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele, according to a leading Spanish football expert. Elsewhere, Juventus are said to be preparing an offer to sign Emre Can.
La Liga journalist and Sky Sports pundit Graham Hunter appeared on BBC Radio 5 live Sport on Thursday and insisted the Blaugrana would not have the financial means to sign both Coutinho and Dembele this summer: “They have spent huge money on new contracts for Suarez, Messi, Busquets and Rakitic. I do not believe they can afford Coutinho and Dembele.”
For that reason, Reds supporters will hope Dortmund relent in their hardened stance over Dembele’s sale after BBC Sport reported the Black and Yellows rejected a Barca bid for the France international, who skipped training on Thursday.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has maintained that Coutinho will not be sold by the Merseyside club this summer, and Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol provided more recent quotes from the German:
Kaveh Solhekol @SkyKaveh
Jurgen Klopp speaking to Sky Germany about Philippe Coutinho: : “Liverpool is not a club that has to sell players. That is set in stone”
Chris McKenna of the Daily Express wrote that Barcelona’s second bid for Coutinho—valued at £90 million—was rejected on Wednesday, citing comments Klopp more recently gave to Sky Germany reiterating his position regarding a sale:
“There is no price limit to let him go or a price that we are ready to give in. Our goal is to have the best possible team. So we want to keep our guys and add new ones. That is our plan. Liverpool is not a club that has to sell players. That is set in stone. So what they pay in the end doesn’t matter.”
“Today, no player on the planet is unsellable. But a transfer is also a question of timing and if you have the opportunity and the need to react to such a transfer.
“Also you have to ask if you have the time to react. But just because of one request of one club, we don’t have to think about that. We are not in that situation.”
Barca are racing to find a replacement for Neymar after the left-sided winger moved to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record €222 million fee, although Yahoo’s Andrew Gaffney questioned if the club wants both rumoured targets:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
Real question is whether Dembele is an alternative to Coutinho or just part one of (a potential) two.
According to BBC Sport, Dembele, 20, is a “£135 million target” for Barca manager Ernesto Valverde, and the Catalan club would be securing a younger asset with perhaps more potential than Coutinho if they bagged his signature.
His exit from Germany could be key to Liverpool retaining Coutinho’s services, and one man desperate to see the Brazilian remain at Anfield is another Merseyside icon, Steven Gerrard, per BT Sport:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
Will Coutinho be playing for Liverpool or Barcelona at the end of August? Paul Scholes couldn’t resist winding up Steven Gerrard 😂 https://t.co/Tse6l9fsdd
Elsewhere, Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Mirror) reported Juventus are ready to offer £23 million to sign Can, who is in the final year of his Liverpool contract.
That doesn’t appear to have fazed Reds chief Klopp, however, according to the Guardian‘s Serie A expert Fabrizio Romano:
Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano
…and Liverpool confirmed to Juventus they DON’T want to sell Emre Can. Klopp is so confident about contract extension. 🇩🇪 #transfers #LFC
Can emerged as one of Liverpool’s more reliable stars towards the end of last season, but the Reds risk losing the midfield general as negotiations “have made no progress over the summer.”
The prospect of joining last season’s UEFA Champions League finalists and linking up with international compatriot Sami Khedira may tempt Can, although the Bianconeri may struggle to match any wages offered by Liverpool.