Barcelona ‘demand Arsenal’s Philippe Coutinho answer’ on £7.5m transfer within 72 hours

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Barcelona want to know Arsenal’s final stance on Philippe Coutinho inside the next 72 hours as they seek to offload the player, according to reports. With the winter transfer window now open, the Blaugrana want to settle Coutinho’s future as early as next week and it is likely he will move on this month.

The 29-year-old’s career hasn’t gone as planned since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018.

After struggling to impress in his first couple of seasons in Spain, Coutinho signed for Bayern Munich on loan, who opted not to sign him permanently.

And his role at Barcelona hasn’t increased since his return to the Nou Camp, despite Xavi’s presence at the helm.

According to the Mirror, he could have a way out via Arsenal, but whilst they want Coutinho on an initial loan, the La Liga club would rather sell him permanently now for £7.5million.

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The Gunners wanted to sign Coutinho on a six-month loan with an obligation to buy in the summer for £5m plus add-ons, looking to pay him around £200,000 a week.

Barcelona have given Arteta and co. until Wednesday to respond to their counter-offer with Coutinho preferring to join the Gunners over any other club, per the report.

Leicester City and Newcastle United have been touted as suitors from elsewhere in the Premier League, should Arsenal refuse to follow up their interest, but Coutinho prefers a switch to the Emirates.

But he could also return to Brazil, with Atletico Mineiro and Palmeiras prepared to battle over his signature.

Coutinho’s arrival at Arsenal would make little sense considering Arteta’s thriving young attack which is currently taking the Premier League by storm.

He would want to play in any of the three attacking positions behind the striker in the Spaniard’s 4-2-3-1 system.

But currently operating in those roles are Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, and Emile Smith Rowe. Smith Rowe has not even started the past few matches despite his stellar form.

Most Gunners fans are unlikely to want the club to risk disrupting their attack for the present and future by recruiting a player whose significant salary would demand a starting spot.

Arteta has remained coy on whether Arsenal could dip into the transfer market in January but suggested he wants to add to his squad.

He said: “It would be useful to change something, even if it is never easy. We are working towards this to understand what our needs are and to find the right solutions.”

However, as it stands, Coutinho’s future firmly remains in limbo, as do Arsenal’s January transfer plans.

The Brazilian star’s Premier League return would undoubtedly draw mass questioning, though, after an insipid spell at Barcelona.

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