NABY Keita is not Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho is not Keita.
There is a glee abounding that Liverpool are about to get a taste of the medicine they’ve been pushing Southampton and RB Leipzig’s way all summer. That just as Liverpool have turned the heads of those club’s star turns, Virgil van Dijk and Keita, they now face the equivalent temptation being pushed the way of their main man Coutinho.
The Reds may represent an appealing career move for van Dijk and Keita, but Barcelona are the zenith of any ambitions, particularly for Latin footballers. That Barca will have Coutinho dreaming is a certainty.
But knowing all of this does not mean Keita and van Dijk are as likely or unlikely to secure desired moves as Coutinho is. There is not yet, at least, true parity in the respective situations.
Football’s abiding cliche is that a club can’t keep an unhappy player. Well they can if his suitor is simply taking the piss, like not offering a fair market price to purchase the player’s registration. Barca are not being unreasonable in placing a water-testing bid, but their offer of £72million is — in today’s terms — bordering on an insult.
They can want Coutinho to replace or augment Neymar all they like, and Phil himself may say that playing for the Catalan club would represent a dream fulfilled, but the fact remains that professional footballers are assets of big corporations. No other serious industry would be expected to dispose of an asset below market value for anything approaching sentimental reasons.
Coutinho’s value in this market is hard to assess. Kylian Mbappe, at 18 years old with all the potential and risk involved, is valued north of €125m by Monaco. Decent but far from world-class full back Kyle Walker has seen his value crystallised at £50m. Coutinho is worth far more than Walker and is a surer bet than Mbappe, while still having lots of years left to improve and enhance his value.
So what price? £100m feels too cheap, and £130/140m doesn’t sound out of court. Let’s split the difference to some extent and pitch Phil’s value at £120m then. If Barca had started the bidding at £95-100m with a view to getting towards that £120m after a few weeks of posturing, then it would be reasonable for Coutinho to knock on Jürgen Klopp’s office door and ask him to give their offers some serious consideration.
As #LFC reject a £72m offer for Philippe Coutinho, @johngibbonsblog speaks to @MelissaReddy_ about the story. pic.twitter.com/BBiJGYKO01
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) July 21, 2017
Barca though have started at £72m. Are they really stealing themselves to finish up by paying Liverpool a further 75-80 per cent more than that figure? It seems improbable. Coutinho, in turn, cannot therefore expect his current club to just take his departure as an inevitability.
Keita was spoken of as being in the £50m bracket as recently as May. In June, someone at Leipzig suggested to Bild magazine in Germany that only an €80m offer would turn their heads. Liverpool opened the bidding at around £57m and quickly upped it to £66m. Leipzig may resist all overtures for their main midfielder but what sporting director Ralf Rangnick will have to concede when Keita picks up the phone directly to him is that the club of Naby’s dreams are putting proper money down on the table. Due respect is being shown for the football club’s asset value.
Keita can say, and Coutinho cannot, that his desire to fulfil his ambitions would lead to his current club being more than appropriately compensated. He can look Rangnick in the eye and argue that he is being held back. He can say that not selling at any price is a disrespectful position. If Liverpool pay €80m for Keita it is a deal with no losers.
Neither Keita nor Coutinho may ultimately get their desired transfers this summer. The odds currently seem stacked against either eventuality. Thus far though, the two situations are not as comparable as most analysts seem in a rush to register. Liverpool are behaving like serious players in a crazily bullish market. Barca, for all their reputation and prestige, are as yet simply not.
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“So what price?”
No price, there is nothing we can do with that money – we’ve already got (at least) £150m we can’t spend.
There are two, maybe three players who could replace him and they all play for sides who won’t sell because they have this daft idea about winning stuff being a priority.
Unfortunately there are plenty of Liverpool fans who love drama and more still who love to pretend they know something that has somehow evaded the attention of every other big club and so will start wibbling on about prices in the hope that they can spend the rest of the summer talking shite about how Zaha and Sigurdsson are worth £60m a piece and anyone who says otherwise “just doesn’t understand football.”
You clearly just don’t understand football sir! :)
Playing devil’s advocate slightly here, but…
It’s odd that in a comparison between Keita and Coutinho you would look to Walker and Mbappe, rather than Naby himself, as reference points for Phil’s value.
Keita has been described by various TAW contributors this summer as the best midfielder in the world, possessing a skill set that is entirely unique in world football and would represent a huge upgrade on a midfield already occupied by Brazilian, German, English and Dutch internationals. In that context, surely £72m for Coutinho – £15m more than our opening bid for Keita – can’t be considered derisory?
Ahem, you clearly don’t understand football sir! :) ;)
Isn’t there two main differences
1) The price – the supposed Barca bid represents a deposit at best where as the prices quoted for the other two are reasonable to most onlookers
2) Coutinho consistently tells of his happiness at LFC and willingness to stay. He may or may not have been stirred by supposed Barca interest, but there’s no clear evidence of this
“Barcelona are the zenith of any ambitions” . Not for Stevie or Carra mate.
Excuse me, but you clearly don’t understand cribbage sir…..
I definitely don’t understand football, or curling, or cross-stitch! (Sorry guys, it’s been a silly day).
Started drinking early, did we Lambo?
Haha, just a silly mood Mike H, no substances involved (this time) honest! :)
I want Liverpool to make a serious attempt on the Barclaycard Premier League next season which means keeping Coutinho. Lets stop talking about the Barcelona link and it goes it away. Even Sky might move onto something else.
We need to stop trying to sign really good footballers, and start trying to sign an ace ‘Oceans eleven’ style criminal team. Then we’d definitely get our hands on title no. 20 (just not in the conventional sense). Come on LFC, bit of lateral thinking required.