La Liga expert Guillem Balague has cast doubts over Barcelona’s chances of signing Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho in the January window.
Ernesto Valverde’s side failed with three bids for the Brazilian in the summer, with the Reds remaining steadfast in their no-sale stance.
This came despite Coutinho requesting a transfer on the eve of the Premier League campaign, but he has since been reintegrated under Jurgen Klopp.
Coutinho has made 15 appearances so far this season, scoring nine goals and assisting seven, producing some of his best form since joining from Inter Milan in 2013.
Klopp’s willingness to employ Coutinho in a key role despite his transgression suggests he won’t be open to an exit for the No. 10 in January.
And according to Balague, speaking to Sky Sports, while Barcelona are preparing a new bid for the 25-year-old, they are not “very optimistic” of sealing a deal.
“Liverpool’s stance is the same, meaning right now they don’t want to negotiate with Barcelona,” he said.
“They are not sitting down with Barcelona and are not setting a price for him.
“In the summer, it will be a different story, but they have no intention of selling him right now.
“The problem for Barcelona right now is that they don’t have a huge amount of money.
“Arthur Melo [of Gremio] is still the priority, they will put in an offer for Coutinho but they aren’t very optimistic as Liverpool do not want to sell right now.”
Balague’s view follows a likely narrative in Barcelona’s pursuit of Coutinho, with the Reds not open to a move in January but more receptive at the end of the campaign.
Liverpool have already secured the £55 million signing of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig for next summer, and the Guinean could arrive as a replacement for Coutinho.
French publication L’Equipe have also suggested Klopp’s side could return with a £79.46 million bid for another summer target, Thomas Lemar, next month.
Both Keita and Lemar have the qualities required to fill in for Coutinho, highlighting long-term planning by the club as they prepare for the midfielder’s departure.
Barcelona’s weakened financial position gives Liverpool added clout in rebuffing approaches this winter, particularly if the Liga giants are also interested in Arthur.
If Coutinho does remain on Merseyside for the rest of the season, Klopp can hope for an influential run of form as the Reds bid for progress in the Premier League and Champions League.