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Europe: Coutinho Loan Narrows Neymar Options

Former Liverpool man set for loan move to Bayern ...

Brazil Press Conference & Training Session - Granja Comary
Brazilian team-mates, but involved in the huge club tug of war over Neymar’s immediate future.
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

This morning’s news that Barcelona has agreed a loan deal with Bayern Munich for surplus to requirements, Philippe Coutinho, considerably narrows the options for Neymar’s move to Barcelona.

He was one of the Barca players that PSG was genuinely interested in and one who many thought would be a definite inclusion on any deal eventually struck.

This latest move seemingly plays into the hands of Real Madrid. It certainly does not appear to be stacking for Barca. Does it mean the Catalan giants are resigned to the fact they cannot prize Neymar from PSG in this window?

Real will be encouraged of course, but it’s far from certain they can tempt PSG enough to part with the Brazilian, who could yet, amazingly given the summer’s run of events, resume his Ligue Un career with PSG.

FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly
Coutinho (left) on his way to Bayern and Rakitic, another who may not wear the colours of Barca for too much longer. Each has been involved in speculation surrounding Neymar’s future.
Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bayern chief-executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said the move will be completed in the coming days. It’s a one-year loan deal, with an option to buy.

Coutinho, in the crowd for Barca’s opening night La Liga defeat to Athletic Club at San Mames, joined Barcelona from Liverpool in a $172m deal, eighteen months ago. He has failed to live up to expectation despite 21 goals in 76 games, not so surprising when you consider the crazy and fickle world at the summit of Spanish soccer.

Barcelona are left now with fewer makeweights in trying to conclude a deal, and their transfer budget is extremely limited at this stage after shelling out huge fees for Frankie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann.

The focus may shift more now on Ousmane Dembele, admired by PSG Sporting Director, Leonardo, but the Frenchman is keen to remain in Catalonia and make a success of his Barca career, which shows signs of promise. Leonardo is also keen on 25 year-old Portuguese right defender, Nelson Semedo. Both Dembele and Semedo played in last night’s defeat in Bilbao, when the Blaugrana lacked cohesion.

Could it be that by deciding to let Coutinho go to Bayern, they are gambling in their belief that Real is also not in a position to win the race for Neymar? At least not in this transfer window.

That’s possible of course. And perhaps sense and reasoning is finally entering the overall equation, although where Barca and Real is concerned, that would provide a significant wind of change.