Rumour Has It: Barcelona find Coutinho solution, Bale committed to Real Madrid

By Sports Desk April 25, 2020

Barcelona could keep Philippe Coutinho after all, while Gareth Bale is seemingly set to stay at Real Madrid.

Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich this season, has been heavily linked with a permanent move away from Barca.

Meanwhile, Bale is said to be considering his Madrid future, but could yet remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – COUTINHO TO STAY AT BARCELONA

Barcelona coach Quique Setien has found a solution for Coutinho and could play the Brazil international in midfield, according to Marca.

The report says Setien has in mind an option of playing Coutinho as a number eight.

A playmaker, Coutinho has made 32 appearances in all competitions for Bayern this season.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move away, Bale is committed to staying at Real Madrid, according to AS, which also says the club have told forward Luka Jovic his future is at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Barcelona are said to be chasing Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. Sky Sports reports the LaLiga club have offered Spurs Samuel Umtiti and Nelson Semedo for Ndombele. The Mirror says Tottenham have no intention of selling the France international. Sport, meanwhile, says Barca want €45million for Semedo.

- Alexis Sanchez's future remains uncertain. The Sun says neither Manchester United nor Inter, where he is on loan this season, want the Chile international.

- Out of contract at Arsenal in 2021, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be set for an exit this close season. The Daily Mail reports the Premier League outfit are ready to listen to offers for the forward.

- Dries Mertens is set to attract plenty of interest with his Napoli contract expiring. The Mirror reports Chelsea want the forward, who is the Serie A club's equal all-time leading goalscorer.

- That could impact Olivier Giroud's future at Chelsea, where he is out of contract at season's end. The Mirror says Chelsea are ready to activate a one-year extension for the striker, while Tuttosport reports Inter are still considering the France forward.

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    "I feel very good because my best friend plays for Leicester City. I am very happy to be able to play with [Turkey team-mate] Caglar [Soyuncu] and I always watched Leicester's games because of him."

    Rodgers had discussed the impending arrival of Under on Friday, stating his belief the 23-year-old will offer something different due to his creativity.

    "He's a very good player," Rodgers said. "We need a different type of attacking player. Having watched him, he's clearly a talented player.

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  • Liverpool sign Jota: Champions look to the future – Assessing £45m recruit in Opta data Liverpool sign Jota: Champions look to the future – Assessing £45m recruit in Opta data

    Diogo Jota's arrival at Liverpool gives the Premier League champions some added depth as they turn an eye to the future.

    The forward's move from Wolves for a reported £45million was confirmed on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp continued to strengthen his squad.

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    With thanks to Opta data, we take a look at Jota, Liverpool's front three and what the future could hold.

     

    A back-up upgrade … for now

    There is no doubt Jota will need to bide his time behind Salah, Mane and Firmino.

    Salah and Mane scored 37 goals between them in the Premier League last season, with Jota's return at least more comparable to that of Firmino.

    Jota scored a goal every 328.1 minutes for a haul of seven, a better return than Firmino (333.4), while converting big chances at a superior rate (33.3 to 23.1) as well.

    But the Brazilian's selfless approach is often lauded and he provided his playmaking credentials during Liverpool's title-winning season. Firmino created 10 big chances and had eight assists, with Jota finishing with three and one respectively.

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    An eye to the future

    At 23 and having signed a reported five-year deal, Jota looks to be a player of the future for Liverpool. With Salah and Mane both 28 and linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, one could move on in the near future.

    Unlike Salah, who arrived from Roma in 2017, Mane caught the eye in the Premier League prior to his switch from Southampton.

    Mane turned 23 during the 2014-15 campaign – his first in England and the first of his two at Southampton. He has gone on to become one of the world's best players, but how does Jota compare to that Mane season, at the same age?

    Unsurprisingly, he is behind, but not by much. Mane finished that season with 10 league goals, one every 213.5 minutes, and had a better big chance conversion (40 to 33.3). But he created just four big chances to Jota's three and ended up with three assists (Jota had one in 2019-20), suggesting there is plenty for Liverpool to work with. Even Mane dribbled less (110 attempts), but he went at a success rate of 53.7. Southampton finished seventh that season, while Wolves ended up in the same spot in 2019-20. If Jota can get close to Mane's level in years to come, Liverpool will be pleased with their investment.

    What about Sarr?

    As recently as Friday, Liverpool had been linked with a move for Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr and the Championship club reportedly wanted at least £40m, a similar price the Reds are apparently paying for Jota. However, the payment structures for the two differed and led to Liverpool landing the Portugal international over Sarr.

    The 22-year-old Sarr enjoyed a fine season, particularly considering Watford were relegated from the top flight.

    He was directly involved in more goals (five goals and four assists) than Jota and in fewer minutes, and converted his limited big chances at a better rate (40) while creating three times more. Sarr had a similar dribble success rate (45.2) but attempted far fewer (104) in his first season in the Premier League. There was little between the two in 2019-20, but Sarr's numbers were impressive in a struggling side and he helped end Liverpool's ‘Invincibles' bid with a brace against the Reds in February.

    Liverpool were getting a fine talent either way and Jota shapes up as an exciting long-term prospect at Anfield.

  • Rumour Has It: Liverpool and Wolves could be set for another deal, Arsenal's shortlist includes four Rumour Has It: Liverpool and Wolves could be set for another deal, Arsenal's shortlist includes four

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    TOP STORY – WOLVES TARGET OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN

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    ROUND-UP

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