Lionel Messi 'wanted to stay' says Barcelona president
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Lionel Messi’s Barcelona exit could hit Liverpool and Tottenham’s transfer plans Liverpool and Tottenham have both suffered transfer blows after Lionel Messi’s Barcelona exit. The Premier League duo were both in contention to land Philippe Coutinho from the Catalan giants, but the midfielder is likely to stay put following Messi’s departure.
Barca announced the shock exit of Messi on Thursday evening after a 21-year association with the club.
The new contract apparently failed to meet La Liga’s strict financial regulations, meaning Messi can sign for a new club.
With Messi’s huge salary off their books, the Barca are now expected to keep hold of Coutinho, who had been linked with a return to the Premier League.
The Brazilian has struggled to make his mark at the Nou Camp since moving to the Spanish club from Liverpool in 2018.
The player cost Barcelona over £120million, but has suffered inconsistent form and was shipped out to Bayern Munich on loan just a year after arriving in Spain.
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Coutinho, who has made 90 appearances for Barca, ruptured his outer meniscus in December last year and was ruled out for the second half of the campaign.
While a return to Liverpool has been rumoured, Tottenham are apparently ‘best positioned’ to bring Coutinho back to England, according to the Mundo Deportivo.
New Spurs boss Nuno Espírito Santo is aiming to put his stamp on the north London side as he looks set to lose his leading man Harry Kane this summer.
Kane failed to return for pre-season training at the start of the week as he angles for a move to Premier League champions Manchester City.
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Meanwhile, Barcelona have denied there is a clause in Coutinho’s contract which would compel them to pay Liverpool £20m if the 29-year-old makes it to 100 appearances for the club, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Coutinho played 201 games for Liverpool, racking up 54 goals, and some fans would love to see him make a return even after his controversial departure three-and-a-half years ago.
Following Coutinho’s Liverpool exit, chairman Tom Werner said: “I only have good things to say about Philippe.
“But I think he left Liverpool because he wanted to play for one of the two big Spanish clubs.
“We tried to convince him that we had the club moving in the right direction and that he could experience great nights in the Champions League if he stayed in Liverpool.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino lauded his compatriot with praise last year and would no doubt love to link up with Coutinho once again at Anfield.
“It was a pleasure to play with him at Liverpool,” Firmino gushed. “I’m a huge fan of his – he’s one of the very best players in the world.”
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