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Barcelona are reportedly planning to sign both Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann in 2018, according to the latest reports in the Catalan press.
Juan Jimenez of AS reported the bold plan, writing that Barca view both as viable targets, even if landing the duo―or even one of them―could prove difficult.
Both have been linked with the Blaugrana at length, and the former was the topic of a tug of war between the club and Liverpool during the summer, per Jimenez. He ended up staying at Anfield, but his future seems murky at best.
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Griezmann stuck with Atletico Madrid during their transfer embargo, but his buyout clause will drop back to €100 million (£88 million) during the summer, a fee well within Barcelona’s budget in the wake of the Neymar sale.
Plenty of outlets believe both players will leave their respective clubs in 2018. Goal’s Mootaz Chehade reported on the Reds’ valuation of their star man:
Mootaz Chehade @MHChehade
Philippe Coutinho certain to leave next summer but a bid of around €80-€90m+ expected in January. I am told that FSG will not entertain any offers below €150m.
Meanwhile, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo told Marca the Rojiblancos are convinced Griezmann will stay for the long run (h/t Goal’s Tom Webber):
“We have put in a lot of effort to keep him and to keep all the players. The problem Griezmann has had is that a series of news stories about other important European clubs wanting him has not benefitted him.
“Griezmann is and will be an Atletico player. He is an important player and at an important club and he wants to win titles with Atletico.“
As Jimenez noted, interest in both players would be high if they were to be made available, and landing the duo would be tricky. Paris Saint-Germain have emerged as serious suitors for Coutinho―and hold a major advantage because of the presence of close friend Neymar―and Manchester United have long been regarded as the favourites to land Griezmann.
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Accomodating both into the same team could pose a problem. Griezmann does his best work as a secondary striker, playing off a target man, and he wouldn’t fit Barcelona’s system at all. Things could be altered to suit him, but Coutinho would also need a spot, and there are only so many places to go around.
A formation that includes Coutinho, Griezmann, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele would be a sight to behold but would also severely limit Barcelona’s strength in midfield. With little size to speak of in or around the box, defences would no doubt aim to turn every match into an overly physical battle.
Targeting both is a solid plan, but signing both could be too much of a good thing. It’s always good to have options, but if the Blaugrana end up in a situation where they can sign both, the smart choice would be to sign just one.