Rumour Has It: Barcelona give Aston Villa Coutinho ultimatum

By Sports Desk May 04, 2022

Barcelona's financial volatility has necessitated a cut of overall wage spend, and Philippe Coutinho has long been viewed as dispensable.

Since his big-money signing from Liverpool, the incompatibility the Brazil international has represented has only been reinforced with loan spells at Bayern Munich and Aston Villa.

However, in need of funds, the Blaugrana have reportedly set the Birmingham club a timeframe for confirming his permanent signing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA GIVE ASTON VILLA COUTINHO ULTIMATUM

Barcelona have given Aston Villa until the end of the month to confirm whether they will sign Coutinho on a permanent deal, Sport is reporting.

The cash-strapped Catalan giants loaned Coutinho to Villa in January with a €40million (£33.7m) purchase option, but Villa have now been given until the end of May to finalise the deal.

Barcelona have reportedly insisted that the finances be resolved by the end of June, as it would help balance their accounts for the season. 

The 29-year-old has played erratically despite four goals and three assists in 14 appearances, not directly contributing to a league goal since early March against Leeds.

ROUND-UP

- Romelu Lukaku has no intention of joining Milan or Newcastle United despite frustration over a lack of opportunities, according to the Evening Standard.

- Chelsea want to sign 20-year-old Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig, Goal reports.

- Football Insider reports Inter Milan are looking to sell Stefan de Vrij, with Tottenham and Aston Villa among the clubs interested.

- Lazio are willing to lower their asking price for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to around €80million, per Calciomercato.

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  • Rumour Has It: Atletico Madrid set asking price for Joao Felix at €100million Rumour Has It: Atletico Madrid set asking price for Joao Felix at €100million

    Atletico Madrid are reportedly ready to part ways with their club-record signing, setting a €100million asking price for Portuguese forward Joao Felix.

    Felix, 23, was purchased from Benfica back in 2019 for a fee of €126m – shattering their transfer record by more than €50m.

    He helped Atletico to a LaLiga title in the 2020-21 season, before being named the club's Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign, but he has now fallen out of favour, starting just five of his side's 14 league games.

    Felix has been able to put himself in the shop window during his two starts to begin Portugal's World Cup group stage, including a goal against Ghana, and now Champions League contenders are expected to come calling in January.

     

    TOP STORY – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN NAMED AS ONE OF THREE SUITORS FOR FELIX

    Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have been named the main interested parties by Spanish publication AS.

    The report states Felix's relationship with head coach Diego Simeone has become too strained to continue persisting, and includes a claim that Atletico rejected a €130m offer from United before the season.

    With his contract tying him to the club until 2026, there will be no need to settle for an offer deemed unsatisfactory, but AS believes anything approaching that €100m figure – including bonuses – will be enough to get a deal done.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – Sport is reporting Barcelona view 32-year-old Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as a potential replacement for Sergio Busquets when the German international's contract expires after the season.

    – According to Express, Saudi Arabian clubs Al Hilal and Al-Nassr are considered the leading candidates to fight it out for ex-United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Paris Saint-Germain will offer Lionel Messi a new contract at the conclusion of the World Cup, according to Goal.

    Chelsea and Newcastle United are competing to land 18-year-old Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, per 90min.

    – Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Milan would like to bring in Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech on a loan deal with the option to make it permanent, but the Moroccan's contract demands could be too expensive.

  • Grealish expresses 'regret' over Almiron comments Grealish expresses 'regret' over Almiron comments

    Jack Grealish expressed remorse for his disparaging comments about Miguel Almiron, admitting "that was one thing I regret".

    The Manchester City winger aimed a harsh jibe at his Newcastle United counterpart in the aftermath of the Citizens' Premier League triumph earlier this year.

    In a clip that went viral, Grealish said he had welcomed the substitution of Riyad Mahrez against Aston Villa on the final day as his team-mate "played like Almiron" – in reference to the Paraguay international's ineffective performances for the Magpies.

    However, Almiron has enjoyed an upturn in form this season and won the Premier League's Player of the Month and Goal of the Month awards for October after scoring six times in six games.

    As he revisited the infamous incident, Grealish revealed his respect for the former Atlanta United player, who he is thrilled to see thriving in the English top flight.

    "I haven't actually been asked about that and let me just address it," the England international told The Independent. "It was the day after the season finished, and obviously I'd had a few drinks.

    "Straight after that, because I didn't realise, we were out celebrating, and I wasn't on my phone on social media. I remember I was in Ibiza, and it had obviously come out. That was one thing I regret.

    "I'm actually buzzing the way he's reacted. He said something about me in the interview the other day, he wished me the best. I thought 'what a guy'.

    "Because if that was me, and somebody had said that about me, I'd have probably been the other way and been like 'f**k it'.

    "I messaged [Newcastle defender] Matt Targett because I'm close with him from Villa and I said to him 'can you message him for me and say to him that I apologise? I obviously didn't mean it'.

    "When I look back on that, that was just one thing that was stupid of me to say. I shouldn't have said it. I didn't realise it was a video to go out, I thought it was just private. But even in private, I shouldn't have said it because he's a fellow professional.

    "I'm actually buzzing for him, I've had a lot of stick off the Newcastle fans and rightly so. At the end of the day, they are backing their player, which I fully understand. He seems like the most harmless, nice guy, so fair play."

    Grealish is on duty with the Three Lions at the World Cup in Qatar, appearing as a substitute in all three of their matches so far, while scoring the final goal of the commanding 6-2 win over Iran.

    The winger will hope to feature again on Sunday, when Gareth Southgate's side lock horns with Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium for a place in the quarter-finals.

  • 'Maybe one day' – Gvardiol 'happy in Leipzig' but talks Chelsea interest 'Maybe one day' – Gvardiol 'happy in Leipzig' but talks Chelsea interest

    Josko Gvardiol insists he is happy at RB Leipzig but would not rule out the possibility of a future move to Chelsea.

    The 20-year-old was the subject of intense speculation at the start of the season, with Chelsea said to have had a £77million (€90m) offer rejected.

    Gvardiol subsequently signed a new contract at Leipzig and has continued to impress.

    But talk about a transfer has never gone away, and the centre-back discussed the possibility after starring for Croatia against Belgium at the World Cup.

    "You know what happened in the last few months," he said. "To be honest, I have no idea. My agent is taking care of this, and we will see.

    "Right now, I'm happy in Leipzig. We will see. You never know.

    "We know the stories, but all I can see is that I'm happy in Leipzig. Right now, I'm going to stay there."

    Asked for his opinion on Chelsea, Gvardiol replied: "It's a big club. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll be there.

    "It's really nice to see things like this, especially because there is [Mateo] Kovacic. You should ask him [if he wants me there]. Just talk with him."

    Gvardiol was described as "the best stopper in the world" by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Thursday, with the defender relishing the global stage.

    "Of course it is [good for my career]," he said. "To be here at this biggest event, it's a big thing for me at 20 years old. I'm happy."

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