Barcelona boss sends message to Chelsea over Philippe Coutinho transfer

Barcelona boss Quique Setien says Philippe Coutinho still has a future at the club despite persistent rumours linking him with a move, while he has made it clear that any suitors will need to pay a premium.

The Brazilian struggled to live up to his mammoth price tag after arriving at Camp Nou from Liverpool and was sent out on loan to Bayern Munich this past season – though the German side will not take up their option to make the deal permanent.

A return to the Premier League appears most likely, with Chelsea believed to be at the front of the queue to sign the Brazilian though Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and even former club Liverpool have all been linked.

But Setien, who took over in January, has moved to quell speculation that Coutinho could leave and says the 27-year-old will be welcomed back into the squad unless a mammoth offer is made.

Asked about Coutinho’s future, Setien told RAC1 on Wednesday evening: ‘I think Coutinho is a great player, I really like him.

‘He is still a Barcelona player. You have to pay the clause or pay a sum to Barca.

‘I think he can be here at the beginning of next season. I have to talk to him to ask him.’

Barcelona are believed to want to recoup as much of Coutinho’s £142million transfer fee as possible, while his release clause is reported to be an astronomical £355m.

Barca’s hierarchy have already said they expect the transfer market to be dominated by player swaps and trades rather than big transfer fees, which could see Chelsea use one of their own stars as bait to land Coutinho.

Recent reports in Spain claim Barca have their eye on N’Golo Kante as part of a swap deal, though the French defensive midfielder is happy and settled at Stamford Bridge and would only leave if he is forced out.

Barca have also been linked with moves for PSG star Neymar and Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, and Setien could not hide his admiration for the Brazilian.

Asked about a potential Camp Nou return for Neymar, the Barca boss added: ‘I like all great footballers, there are a dozen in Europe who are extraordinary. But I really like the ones I have too.’

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