Barcelona midfielder Paulinho has said he and his team-mates are already house-hunting on behalf of Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho in the hope he'll be joining them at the Camp Nou in 2018. However, the Reds reportedly won't settle for less than his asking price.
Paulinho recently spoke to Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo (h/t Perform, via AS) and jested that his Brazil team-mate could have a home ready and waiting for him in the event he does complete a Barca switch:
"The city already knows of his time with Espanyol, I talk about the facilities, and the training, the group, the way the group received me that was spectacular.
"I make jokes that people are already looking for a house for him. I try to give him the basic information, the most important for him and his family, because maybe the time he lived here was not enough to know the city.
"But he knows that Barcelona is a very good city, that offers everything for him and his family."
The Blaugrana's links with Coutinho are well-established at this point, but after a rocky summer transfer window in which he handed in a transfer request the player has thrived, per Empire of the Kop:
Empire of the Kop @empireofthekop
Philippe Coutinho's last 14 starts: ⚽️ Goal 🅰️ Assist ⚽️ Goal ⚽️ Goal ⚽️ Goal 🅰️ Assist 🅰️ Assist ⚽️ Goal 🅰️ Assist ⚽️ Goal 🅰️ Assist 🅰️ Assist ⚽️ Goal ⚽️ Goal ⚽️ Goal ⚽️ Goal ⚽️ Goal https://t.co/YEfKqVroCJ2017-12-26 18:31:42
According to the report, Barcelona could return with another offer for Coutinho in January after seeing their advances turned down in the summer, with BBC Sport's Phil McNulty saying a third offer of around £114 million was rejected.
Catalan daily Sport (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) has since written that the Reds won't accept a swap deal for Coutinho and want to see their alleged £166 million valuation of the player met.
A move in 2018 still looks possible for Coutinho—whether that be in January or at the end of the season. In either scenario, the Merseyside club are at least set to make a substantial profit on their January 2013 investment, per Liverpool writer Oliver Bond:
Oliver Bond @Oliver__Bond
It’s inevitable he’s off, but £8.5m for Philippe Coutinho is one of the best pieces of transfer business Liverpool Football Club has ever done. Stunning goal on his 200th appearance. 🔥2017-12-26 17:41:35
Paulinho went on to advise Coutinho to "stay calm," having completed his own high-profile move to the Camp Nou from China in the summer, adding that his compatriot "will not regret" a switch from the Premier League.
Liverpool recently flexed their financial muscle by making Virgil van Dijk the most expensive defender in history, agreeing a £75 million transfer to be completed in January 1, per BBC Sport. Football writer Adam Digby questioned whether the splurge may be an early allocation of Coutinho's sale funds, however:
Adam Digby @Adz77
@MichaelBrannan @CorSport Totally right about PL money, there’s an endless pot for the top clubs, agree on them giving Saints some make-up money & deffo a point about Coutinho2017-12-28 08:39:30
Following Neymar's £200 million move to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, Paulinho and Rafinha Alcantara are the only senior Brazilians left in the Barcelona squad, but other talents would attract Coutinho.
Finding suitable accommodation is unlikely to be an issue for the South American if he still hopes to move to Catalonia, but Anfield remains his home for the time being, and the Reds will look to keep it that way in 2018.