Philippe Coutinho to stay at Barca after Lionel Messi exit – Koeman

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Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said midfielder Philippe Coutinho will get another chance at the Camp Nou in the wake of Lionel Messi’s departure from the club.

There were reports last month that Barca were reluctant to let the Brazil international leave unless a big offer arrived. Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain has eased the pressure on the club to get rid of their biggest earners.

Coutinho, 29, has not featured for Barca since last December due to injury and is not in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga, but Koeman said he could come into contention for next week’s clash against Getafe.

“Philippe needs another week of training before being in the squad,” Koeman said in a news conference on Friday. “For me, he’s a great player and he can be important for Barca. I am absolutely counting on him for this season.”

Coutinho has played 90 times for Barca, scoring 24 goals, since becoming their record signing when he joined from Liverpool for €160 million in 2018. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich but returned to Barca last season only to seriously injure his knee after just 14 appearances.

It was reported earlier this summer that AC Milan had sounded out a potential deal for Coutinho, while Arsenal were linked with a move for him this week before signing Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on Friday.

However, Coutinho instead looks set to remain at the Camp Nou, where he will be one of the players tasked with helping the club move forward in the post-Messi era.

One player, though, who could still leave is Ilaix Moriba. Talks over a new contract have broken down, and there was a report  last week that German club RB Leipzig wanted to sign him. Barca will ask for €15m for the young midfielder, whose deal expires in 2022.

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