South American football expert Tim Vickery explains why Liverpool star could already have joined Barcelona but it is being secret so Reds can buy replacements before prices rocket
WHEN he flew back to Brazil to take part in rounds 15 and 16 of South America’s World Cup qualifiers, Philippe Coutinho stopped off in Rio de Janeiro to visit doctor Michael Simoni, who had treated him for a shoulder complaint a few years back.
“Philippe came to talk about personal matters. We have a relation of trust and he is in full condition to play in the World Cup qualifiers,” said the doctor.
But what of the back injury that has kept the player out of Liverpool’s first games of the season?
“It is an emotional question, one of stress,” said Simoni.
“A consequence of all the pressure and the uncertainty about his future.”
But what uncertainty, if Liverpool appeared adamant that they would not sell him to Barcelona?
And yet members of Coutinho’s entourage told the local media that they were still confident that the deal would take place.
How could this be, if sources in Spain were saying that no negotiations were taking place?
The apparent contradictions leave one possibility hanging – that the deal has already been done, but has yet to be announced.
The Spanish transfer window remains open for a day longer than the rest of Europe, meaning that the move could be made public on Friday.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are seeking to bring in re-enforcements such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal.
But the price of their transfer targets, already inflated in this year’s market, will surely rise still higher if clubs are aware that Liverpool are awash with cash from the Coutinho deal.
Coutinho has handed in a transfer request and not played for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season due to a “back injury”.
On Tuesday Coutinho trained with Brazil’s reserves.
Willian took his normal place in the starting line-up.
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With four rounds to go Brazil are anxious to avoid complacency, and coach Tite is keen to promote competition for places.
He may feel that Coutinho has lost focus and, even if fully fit, should drop to the bench.
For the question of where Coutinho will be playing his next club game, the answer might have to wait until Friday.
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