Liverpool Show Interest in Barcelona Midfielder Rafinha
Liverpool are set to turn their attention to Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder Rafinha, as they look for an alternative to Naby Keita, according to a report in the Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo.
It’s well known that Mundo Deportivo is a Barcelona-based paper and there’s a strong hint of the move for Rafinha playing into the hands of Barcelona as they look to launch a bid for Philippe Coutinho.
According to the report, Jurgen Klopp has asked Liverpool Sporting Director Michael Edwards to clinch a deal for the versatile Brazilian midfielder for a fee believed to be around £25m-35m. Rafinha is capable of playing in several positions, including central midfield and on the wings, which would suit Klopp’s preference for versatility.
While the signing would make some degree of sense, especially considering that a deal for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita is looking increasingly unlikely, it’s hard to believe this is anything other than the Catalan media stirring up the Coutinho transfer rumours.
With Neymar’s move to PSG looking increasingly likely to go through, with many of the experts believing a deal is all but done, the Catalan giants are targeting Coutinho to replace his countryman. Neymar is set to cost the French club around £175m, which means Barcelona will have sufficient money to find a replacement.
The Merseyside club have already rejected one bid of around £72m for their star man and, while it is understood that Coutinho would be open to moving to Spain, he is unlikely to hand in a transfer request and is happy to remain with Liverpool.
Coutinho has asserted himself as Liverpool’s most important player and is off the back of an excellent campaign that saw him score 13 goals in 30 Premier League appearances and a further seven assists, as Liverpool finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.
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However, for Liverpool in particular, the side needs to keep Coutinho and perhaps add a few more faces to the squad to stay in contention.
The Reds have already added Mohamed Salah to the squad for a fee believed to be in the region of £39m, breaking their previous transfer record in the process, while adding left-back Andrew Robertson and former Chelsea youngster Dominic Solanke. And, with the clubs around them spending big this summer, it’s vital that Liverpool add to the squad, rather than sell their best players.
Earlier in the summer, it looked as if a club-record deal for Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk was all but done. However, after a formal complaint from the Saints, Liverpool backed out of the deal, although there is still some belief around Anfield that they will get their man before the end of the transfer window.
Likewise, Liverpool had hoped to secure the services of Naby Keita but RB Leipzig have been adamant he won’t leave the club. The German club’s insistence that Keita won’t be sold gives some credence to the idea of Rafinha joining from Barcelona yet it’s hard to think that the links are anything other than the Barcelona press trying to stir up the interest in Coutinho.
Whatever the outcome of the supposed Rafinha chase, Liverpool need to stand firm on any advances for Coutinho if they want to improve on last season’s top-four finish and have a good run in the Champions League.