Arsenal are looking at bringing Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho to the Emirates Stadium on a stunning loan deal for the rest of the season.
That's according to Sport via Sport Witness, who say that the 29-year-old could be heading back to the Premier League, following a torrid time in Barcelona after he signed for over £100m.
Arsenal have long held an interest in the Brazilian and been linked with a move for him during his various struggles in Spain. With the Gunners pushing for a spot in the Champions League next season though, now might be the time to bring in a touch of proven quality to compliment the many youngsters in the team.
Ex-Liverpool star Coutinho may have floundered in LaLiga but has played at the very highest level. With Arsenal set to lose both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny for the Africa Cup of Nations – and Barcelona keen to jettison stars to balance the books – a move could make sense for all parties.
Arsenal's line-up has been settled of late, with manager Mikel Arteta sticking with the same XI four games in a row in the Premier League. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Albert Sambi Lokonga both missed last night's League Cup clash with Sunderland through illness, however, forcing Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard deeper in midfield.
Coutinho would likely play at no.10 for the Gunners, with Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli having both impressed out on the left for Arsenal in recent weeks. Odegaard may well be used deeper as a no.8 in the absence of other stars, giving Coutinho license in attack.
Equally, Dani Ceballos was originally more of a no.10 or a no.8 in a midfield, just like Coutinho. Arteta ultimately reshaped the Spaniard into playing in a double-pivot – and could do the same with the ex-Liverpool star. And given the connection that Arsenal have had with Brazilians lately – Martinelli and defender Gabriel are both internationals now, while the club have also signed Chelsea pair David Luiz and Willian under compatriot and technical director, Edu – the Gunners may well have a culture that Coutinho enjoys off the pitch.
While the move would make sense in many respects, however, it might not happen for a number of reasons. Coutinho is in desperate need of minutes and with Arsenal's in-form youngsters all firing, he might not get into what is an already close-knit, confident first XI. The Gunners lack firepower – thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's recent drop – and though Arteta may look to move his troubled ex-captain to Barca in exchange for someone else, Coutinho isn't a replacement in any sense.
On a short-term loan, Coutinho may add a sparkle – but his arrival would also heighten expectation on a young group and potentially imbalance the side, similarly to how Willian's spectacularly underwhelming stint was received in north London. The priority for Arteta remains a striker, while backup right-backs are also being considered.
Arsenal are also said to be interested in Frenkie De Jong, Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto from Camp Nou.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT.
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