Former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli believes the club can hold on to Philippe Coutinho this summer – even if the Brazilian wants to leave Anfield for Barcelona.
The Catalans recently launched a £72m bid for Coutinho in an attempt to prise the talented midfielder away from the Merseyside club.
Liverpool turned down the offer, with Jurgen Klopp insisting that Coutinho remains happy at Anfield, but Barcelona continue to be linked to the 25-year-old and reports have suggested that the side are poised to return with an improved offer.
Nonetheless, Comolli remains hopeful that the club can feasibly reject any future offers made by Ernesto Valverde’s side on account of their “financial” strength.
“It would be extremely difficult, almost impossible, to replace Coutinho with a like-for-like player in terms of skills and knowledge of the Premier League,” Comolli told talkSPORT.
“I don’t think Liverpool can afford to sell him…but if they actually want to keep the player, I think they can say ‘no’.
“The [financial] landscape has changed massively over the last 12 or 24 months in world football.
“In the deal we had with Suarez, he told me one thing: ‘If Real Madrid or Barcelona come for me, would you let me go?’
“However, because the Premier League has so much financial ability to resist any bid, I think if Liverpool want to say no, they say no.
“That’s exactly what PSG did with Barcelona and [Marco] Verratti. Barcelona had agreed a deal with Verratti, but they came to PSG and they said, ‘absolutely no chance, the player is staying’.
“Liverpool don’t need the money – no club in the Premier league needs the money because they’re so much coming in from the TV rights.”
Barcelona are expected to up their efforts to land Countinho should they lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, but Comolli has insisted that Liverpool are the “biggest hurdle” to any future deal taking place.
“If the player wants to go to Barcelona and they feel they have agreed a deal, it doesn’t mean much. The biggest hurdle is to agree a deal with Liverpool.
“It’s still very much in Liverpool’s hands.
“Honestly, even if the player wants to go, I think it’s very, very possible for the club to keep him.”
Source: Samuel Lovett| The Independent