Liverpool will demand astronomical fee from Barcelona to sell Philippe Coutinho after Nike website blunder
Liverpool will demand an astronomical fee for Philippe Coutinho before they consider the sale of the Brazilian to Barcelona after the Spanish side's shirt manufacturers were guilty of an extraordinary marketing blunder.
Barcelona's presumption they will sign the playmaker in this transfer window was taken to extreme levels when Nike – who not only provide the club's kits but have their own sponsorship deal with Coutinho - announced his imminent arrival at the Nou Camp.
They displayed an advert on their official online store on Saturday evening urging fans to purchase their Coutinho jersey for the remainder of this campaign.
It read: "Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017/8 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician's name on it. Act fast - free personalisation only available until January 6."
The promotion – linked via Barcelona's own website – was removed within an hour. Despite the advertisement, it was not possible to buy the jersey.
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Despite requests for a statement, Nike offered no comment or explanation for the gaffe. The arrogance surrounding the advert fuelled the sense of intrigue.
Liverpool rejected three Barcelona bids for Coutinho last summer, the last of £115 million. The initial payment was just £86 million, woefully short of what it would take for the Merseyside club to even consider selling their star player.
Having taken a tough stance in the summer, manager Jurgen Klopp has been more reticent about making any statement on the player's future recently. Liverpool's hardline six months ago coincided with the player declaring himself unfit with a bad back.
Since his return, Coutinho has been one of the Premier League's stand-out performers. However, he is still keen to leave. Coutinho is prepared to give up his immediate Champions League ambitions to secure his move and talks have been ongoing between the club and his representative during the course of the season.
It is possible he will not start his club's New Year's Day fixture at Burnley, but that is as much a consequence of Klopp's rotation policy with two games in 48 hours.
The Liverpool manager has always intended to make wholesale changes for the trip to Turf Moor.