HEDGING THEIR BETS! Barcelona interest in Philippe Coutinho depends on Neymar’s future, talkSPORT told

26 Jul

Barcelona will only make a move for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho should they lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, according to South American football expert Tim Vickery.

The Catalan giants are reportedly losing their battle to keep Neymar at the Camp Nou as the Ligue 1 club prepare to smash the world transfer record by paying the Brazilian’s £199million release clause.

READ MORE: ‘He’s not exactly ideal for Jurgen Klopp’s vision’ – Liverpool face a dilemma over selling Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona

Neymar’s club teammate Gerard Pique posted a message on social media on Sunday night suggesting he would remain in Barcelona and reject PSG’s advances.

But the Spanish defender has since clarified his post, revealing it was his personal hope rather than an official confirmation from Neymar that he would be staying.

And Vickery believes Neymar’s future will weigh heavily on whether Liverpool can expect to retain Coutinho ahead of the new Premier League season.

“I think there’s a link here. I’ve seen speculation that Barcelona are after Coutinho as a possible long-term replacement for [Andres] Iniesta in their midfield – and I don’t really see it,” Vickery told Hawksbee and Jacobs.

“I don’t see him in that position. And if you imagine [Luis] Suarez and a line of [Lionel] Messi and Neymar behind him, that to my mind would leave them very, very open.

“My take on this is that Coutinho is a hedge Barcelona are doing on the possibility of losing Neymar, that they see him as a straight substitute for Neymar if he goes to Paris Saint-Germain.

“Negotiations are certainly taking place, including [for] our old friend from White Hart Lane – Paulinho, who Barcelona are still in for.

“They are looking to reinforce their midfield positions. But from my mind, what will happen here is that if Neymar goes then Barcelona will go in big time for Coutinho.

“And then Liverpool are in that situation: do you want to keep an unhappy player? But if they keep Neymar, where is Coutinho going to fit into the team?

“Why would he want to swap maybe not fitting into the team for a place where everything is built around him at Liverpool?”

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