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Philippe Coutinho EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United move would be ‘near-impossible’ as Barcelona star has ‘great affinity’ for Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho’s representative has told talkSPORT it would be ‘near-impossible’ for the Barcelona playmaker to join any Premier League club other than Liverpool.

Kia Joorabchian says the 27-year-old Brazilian ace still has a ‘great affinity’ towards the Merseyside club and would find it ‘very hard’ to join a rival English side.

The top agent joined talkSPORT host Jim White on Monday to respond to the transfer reports linking his client with a return to Anfield this summer.

Coutinho has been at the centre of transfer speculation this summer

It has been claimed a deal is in the works to send Coutinho back to Liverpool in a two-year loan deal, with the Reds having the option to then make the signing permanent for £88million – just a portion of the £142m fee they sold him to Barca for 18 months ago.

Joorabchian said he was unaware of those reports.

The agent also said he has been assured in no uncertain terms by Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu that Coutinho is very much still valued by the club and is NOT for sale this summer.

However, he then said the playmaker is only 60-40 to stay at the Nou Camp, and hinted that he will try and move him on if he is not completely happy at the Catalan club.

“I don’t know about those stories,” Joorabchian told Jim White in response to the latest Liverpool rumours.

“Bartomeu was very clear with me, saying he doesn’t want the player to leave and he has a future there.

“They made a tremendous effort to bring him over, he is Barcelona’s most expensive signing in history and the second or third most expensive signing in the world.

“He had an amazing Copa America, he was rated in the team of the Copa America, he won the Copa America with Brazil and he’s won three trophies since he’s been at Barcelona in the last two years – so he’s had a great time there.

“As things happen in football, sometimes players feel a bit uncomfortable about somewhere, sometimes it’s the clubs that just don’t quite fit.

“If that happens obviously we’ll decide what’s best for Philippe, but at the moment we’re being told that’s not happening, it’s fine.”

Coutinho has been linked with moves to Liverpool and Man United, but Joorabchian says an Old Trafford switch would be ‘near-impossible’

Aside from Liverpool, both Manchester United and Chelsea have been credited with an interest in Coutinho, who struggled to nail down a regular place in Barca’s starting XI last season.

The arrival of Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid could reduce his playing time even more, and Joorabchian did not rule out a move for his client this summer.

However, it appears a move to any Premier League club other than Liverpool is not likely.

The agent added: “Manchester United is a great club, I have players there and I have all the respect for them, but as far as Philippe goes it would be an extremely difficult to a near-impossible move.

“I would be very difficult for Philippe to play for any of Liverpool’s rivals, because he has such a great affinity towards Liverpool. His time there was fantastic.

“Yes, but like all big players at some point, you want to experience a different thing in your career because your career is very short, but it [his Anfield exit] has no reflection on the fact his heart and affinity is very much with Liverpool.

Coutinho was adored by Liverpool fans, and many would love to see the Brazilian back in a Reds shirt

“I know he was cheering every time they had the chance. Lucas Leiva is the same way. A lot of these guys who leave Liverpool remain Liverpool fans because of the fans and the passion they have.

“So it would be hard for him to go to a rival.

“Every time we’ve spoken about it we’ve had that same conversation, he would find it hard to play for another club in the Premier League.”

In terms of Coutinho’s links with a return to Merseyside, Joorabchian conceded the move would also have to make sense for Liverpool before any deal went ahead.

And he questioned whether there is any room for the Brazilian in Jurgen Klopp’s current team.

Do European champions Liverpool even need Coutinho anymore?

“The thing is, Liverpool have built a tremendous squad, the manager has a great balance there and it’s probably one of the run football clubs in the country,” he said.

“So with the build-up they’ve done and the squad they have, it [signing Coutinho] would really have to be something they would have to decide whether or not they feel there is now a current gap in the squad for someone life Philippe.

“I think it’s going to be a very difficult deal, but most of the big ones are always very, very difficult.

“Obviously if he were to move back [to the Premier League], it would have to be Liverpool, but at the moment I think it would be difficult and it would be up to them.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Kia Joorabchian IN FULL above

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