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Barcelona Transfer News: Willian Reportedly Swayed to Join by Philippe Coutinho

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 21, 2018

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 14: Willian of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on April 14, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Chelsea winger Willian has reportedly been convinced by Brazil team-mate Philippe Coutinho to join him at Barcelona and turn down alleged interest from Manchester United this summer.

Sport (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) reported Coutinho played the role of adviser while the pair were away at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and has succeeded in turning Willian's attention to the Camp Nou.

The Blaugrana already boast a stacked attacking lineup, but Otway said they want Willian to provide competition for Ousmane Dembele on the right flank.

Sky Sports News reported Barca have submitted a third bid this summer to sign Willian, worth "in excess of £55 million," but Sport said the Red Devils have made an offer of their own, via Sport Witness:

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

Catalan newspaper Sport speaks of €60m Manchester United offer for Willian, Chelsea player wants transfer, Barca first choice, looking at other options too... 'mainly' United. Mourinho pushing things. #mufc #fcblive #cfc https://t.co/A54NEyph1r https://t.co/vkASBgt6kO

The former Shakhtar Donetsk star was brought to Stamford Bridge from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala five years ago by United manager Jose Mourinho, who is seemingly eager to reunite with his old charge.

The Blues would likely rather sell to the Blaugrana rather than a direct rival, although Chelsea have shown a lack of care for such things, having agreed to send Nemanja Maticto Old Trafford just last summer.

As things stand, Willian appears open to moving, but there is no agreement with any club for Chelsea to sell, and manager Maurizio Sarri faces a decision in whether he allows Willian to leave.

Writer Andrew Gaffney suggested that, due to their constricted funds, Willian would likely be the biggest signing of Barca's summer window if he did arrive, preventing the club from investing elsewhere:

Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC

@BestfordC Coutinho will go further forward if they can bring in a top class CM. Signing Willian would essentially close the door on that, at least for this summer. Would be quite underwhelming.

It does strike as an odd area to invest in if that is the case, particularly given they spent €105 million (plus bonuses) on Dembele 12 months ago, only for knee injuries to limit his impact on his maiden term in Spain.

Last season saw Willian score 13 goals in 55 appearances—both career highs for the player—as well as record 12 assists.

However, he turns 30 on August 9, and sportswriter Andy West questioned the logic:

Andy West @andywest01

Barça in for Willian? No, I don't get it either. But bear in mind there's a very good chance it's not true...

United have been linked with numerous wing talents in recent transfer windows as they seek to improve their stable of wide men, but this could be Willian's only chance to get a move to one of Spain's two heavyweights.

Chelsea will have a major say in terms of which bid is accepted, but Coutinho's hand in convincing him of a Catalan switch appears to have had the desired effect on Willian at least.

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