Barcelona have been strongly linked with a move for Liverpool attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho in the summer transfer window, and with the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a whopping €222 million, they have money to spend and a star player to replace. Barcelona’s determination to secure the services of Coutinho has only been strengthened in recent days, and although their latest bid of £90 million for the 25-year-old has been turned down, one suspects that the Spanish club will return with an improved offer sooner rather than later.

Coutinho is a brilliant player, and given that he is only 25 years of age at the moment and can also operate as a winger, the Brazil international is only going to improve in the coming years. Having established himself as one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League, playing with the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets is only going to make him a better footballer. With the Premier League betting odds of Liverpool winning the title at 12/1 and Barcelona being one of the favourites to win the Champions League and La Liga this season, it would make sense for Coutinho to swap Anfield for Camp Nou this summer.​

However, is Coutinho worth €90m or €100m at the moment? Is the former Inter Milan man a better and more valuable footballer than Paul Pogba, who cost Manchester United £89m when he moved from Juventus in the summer of 2016? Of course, a player’s price is what the buying club is willing to pay for him, but at this moment Coutinho is not worth €100m and Barcelona would be overpaying for him if they signed him at that price.

Coutinho is a very good attacking midfielder, but there are better players in that position in the Premier League. Manchester City duo David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Mesut Ozil of Arsenal all are better and more talented footballers than the Liverpool man. The problem for Barcelona is that they will not be able to sign Silva, De Bruyne or Hazard, while Ozil is a former Real Madrid player. That is the main reason why Coutinho is one of the very few realistic options in England for Barcelona to replace Neymar.

Neymar is a far better attacking player than Coutinho is and is genuinely world class; the 25-year-old is probably the third best player on the planet after Barcelona star Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Although Coutinho can play out wide, he is better playing down the middle and pulling strings from behind the strikers. This means that Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde would either have to change his formation and play with two up front, or he would have to find someone else to take Neymar’s place up front and deploy Coutinho in a midfield-three.

A better option for Barcelona would be Borussia Dortmund youngster Ousmane Dembele. The 20-year-old forward is one of the best young players in Europe, and he could slot in Neymar’s place in Barca’s attack and play alongside Suarez and Messi. True, Dortmund are demanding as much as €130m in order to part company with the France international forward, but he would be a better long-term investment for Barcelona.

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