Have Barcelona finally given up on their attempts to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool? That’s the question being asked after the Reds turned down a third offer from the Blaugrana.
The stance from Liverpool has always been that the Brazilian is not for sale, even though he has submitted a transfer request and therefore seemingly wants to leave.
However, according to Guillem Balague, Barcelona have “all but conceded defeat in their pursuit of Philippe Coutinho” and will now look elsewhere.
If true, this latest development will be a blow to Barcelona’s summer transfer hopes, Coutinho has been seen as one of their main targets even before Neymar left.
To have three bids rejected by Liverpool, the most recent being in the range of £118m, places Barcelona under immense pressure to bolster their roster before the transfer window closes.
"Barcelona were not prepared for losing Neymar, Coutinho only became a target when Neymar left.
"Barca didn't work on deals for Jean Michael Seri in the eventuality a move for Coutinho failed, and they thought they had got Marco Verratti when they hadn't.
"Now Barcelona find themselves needing urgent solutions, but they won't get all the players they want.
"If Liverpool are to be believed, they won't get Coutinho, for instance, and they will have to go for other targets.
"Barcelona set a deadline of 7pm on Sunday for Liverpool to accept their third for Coutinho," he added. "And that they would retract the offer if it was not accepted.
"Liverpool have not even answered, so that should mean that's the end of that.”
Guillem Balague | Sky Sports
As Balague said, Barcelona were not in any way prepared to lose Neymar. Their sudden influx of money after his departure hasn’t made their lives any easier either.
Despite Barcelona’s standing in the game, capturing world class talent hasn’t been easy, and it looks like Coutinho may be another one to slip away. Time to move on.