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Philippe Coutinho.

Spanish football expert explains Nike's advert about Philippe Coutinho and Barcelona

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In stark contrast to last summer, Liverpool are open to finally selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in the January transfer window.

Jurgen Klopp recently insisted he feels no need to sell the Brazilian, despite splashing £75 million to sign Virgil van Dijk, but he's never completely ruled out a move.

There's a sense that the German's hand has been forced, though, what with Coutinho's behaviour of late and Nike's 'accidental' campaign on their website.

Alongside the tagline, "Where the magic happens," Nike advertised Coutinho's name on the back of a Barcelona jersey before taking it down.

Apparently it was a mistake, but everyone has their doubts.

What's clear is Liverpool's stance has changed and should Barcelona meet their demands of £140 million with £120 million up front, they will do business with the Blaugrana.

"Things have changed," said Guillem Balague earlier this week. "As you know in the summer Barcelona made three offers for Coutinho, and they are preparing another bigger one.

"They are preparing it, they haven't sent it yet to Liverpool, but I think everybody is under the impression that Liverpool have softened their stance, and are willing to listen.

"They haven't necessarily put a price on Coutinho, but they are thinking: 'How about if we sold him now?' Something that is not new is that Coutinho would like to leave now."

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-SWANSEA

Should Coutinho leave as expected, Liverpool will undoubtedly feel aggrieved by Nike, who sponsor Barcelona.

Was the advert genuinely an accident? Or did the sportswear giant have a hidden agenda involving Coutinho's future?

Well, according to Spanish football expect Graham Hunter, Nike's actions may not have been so innocent as they've made out.

Hunter believes Nike want to see Coutinho - who wears their football boots - wearing Barcelona's kit instead of Liverpool's New Balance strip. He said, per the Liverpool Echo:

Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga

"When Nike are doing that, even though it's [an] extraordinary and terrible gaffe, it's clear Nike want a big brand name player at their number one brand name club Barcelona rather than playing in New Balance."

It's an interesting theory and one that may hold some weight given how sportswear brands like their big-name athletes to play for clubs they also sponsor.

When Paul Pogba joined Manchester United in 2016, for example, Adidas reportedly played a part in the move because they sponsored both parties.

If Nike are trying to pull the same strings this time around, it would appear they're close to succeeding in their endeavours.

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Topics:
Philippe Coutinho
Barcelona
Football
Liverpool

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