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Arsenal were ‘really close’ to signing Philippe Coutinho before one person intervened

Arsenal were reportedly ‘really close’ to signing Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona during the summer transfer window. The Brazil international was widely expected to leave the Nou Camp after spending last term on loan at Bayern Munich. However, Ronald Koeman’s intervention saw him stay in Catalonia.

Barcelona signed Coutinho from Liverpool during the January transfer window of 2018, paying a huge £142million to land the Samba star.

However, he toiled during his spell at the Nou Camp before joining Bayern Munich on loan last summer.

Coutinho sparkled at the Allianz Arena when called upon but the Bundesliga giants opted against signing the 28-year-old on a permanent basis, believing any deal would be too expensive.

In the summer, the Brazil international was linked with a move to Arsenal.

And, now, journalist Fabrizio Romano has claimed the playmaker was close to moving to the Emirates Stadium – but Koeman’s intervention saw the midfielder stay put.

“Before, Barca were considering to sell Philippe Coutinho and he was on the list to sell, so his agents were working to offer him to Tottenham, to Arsenal,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

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“Arsenal were really close and at the start of August, they were ready. But once Koeman arrived, he understood it was difficult to sign other players, for example Memphis Depay.

“Ousmane Dembele [was not close to signing for Liverpool] because [Liverpool made] a simple loan with no buy option. Barcelona were considering the move to let him play but in September they changed their position because they needed money to sign Depay.

“Always, the player said no to Liverpool and Juventus – the player said it was not a matter of money; he wanted to stay [at Barcelona].”

Romano also dismissed Barcelona potentially winning the Champions League this season, believing they’re not good enough to land the prize they covet.

“I think it is really difficult to see Barcelona fighting for the Champions League because the night against Bayern Munich was something terrible,” he said.

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“After this kind of defeat, we were expecting a revolution, not just in the manager but also in the players. We expected a new era for Barcelona but it is not like this because they just signed Sergino Dest.

“It was not a real revolution. They lost Arturo Vidal, Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic but they have no new stars in this moment.

“This season for Barcelona is like: ‘let’s start the change, let’s sell players and prepare the revolution for next year with a new president and new team’. And we have to see without or without Lionel Messi.”

One player who left Arsenal during the summer transfer window was Lucas Torreira, who joined Coutinho in La Liga with Atletico Madrid.

And the Uruguay international has now admitted he’d love to stay in Spain beyond his loan spell, saying: “I’ve suffered a lot of things, I had a lot of personal problems and more than anything my family also suffered.

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“I know that I am a year on loan.

“But I’ve been here for four or five days and it seems like it’s a lot, because I’ve been treated very well.

“It is a new opportunity in my life, in which I have fought a lot, because Atlético has always been one of my dreams, one of my goals as a team.

“And being able to achieve it at the age of 24 is something very important.

“It all depends on how I go during the season, which I hope is very good, and maybe in the future I can stay in the club.”

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