English Premiership

Coutinho open to signing for Chelsea

Philippe Coutinho (Getty Images)
Philippe Coutinho (Getty Images)

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has reportedly agreed to sign for Chelsea, but the two clubs are yet to settle on an acceptable transfer fee.

The La Liga giants are seeking as much as €90 million for the Brazilian, but the Blues are expecting to spend nearer €70 million, according to Sport.

Any deal at the top end of Barcelona's asking price would represent a club-record signing for the Blues, beating the £71.5 million they paid Athletic Bilbao for Kepa Arizabalaga.

Coutinho is currently on loan at Bayern Munich after his dream move to the Nou Camp turned sour but the Bundesliga champions are not expected to sign him outright due to the high cost of their option to buy.

That has put a number of top Premier League sides on high alert and it's now believed that Chelsea will beat off Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United to get the Brazilians signature.

But one of the most-talked-about transfer sagas in recent memory seems unlikely to have a smooth and straightforward passage despite this latest update.

While Spanish outlet Sport says Coutinho has given Chelsea his word that he wants to sign and that a return to the Premier League with Frank Lampard's side is top of his agenda, the two clubs remain still some way apart on agreeing to a suitable fee.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien, who wasn't in charge when Coutinho made his £142 million move to the Nou Camp from Liverpool, has made some positive noises about the player, suggesting the Catalan giants could be ready to wipe the slate clean.

However, Setien's comments could also be interpreted as a bid to drive the midfield playmaker's price up and show that Barcelona will play hardball with any potential suitors.

"I think Coutinho is a great player," he told RAC1 (via the London Evening Standard). "I like him a lot. He's a player who, in principle, is Barcelona's.

"Any team that wants him has to pay his clause or a certain amount to Barca.

"I'm counting on him to be here at the start of next season. I don't know what he wants to do.

"Perhaps I have to speak to him and ask him. He is a great player, without a doubt."

- TEAMtalk media

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