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Barcelona give up Coutinho chase

Barcelona, Spain | AFP | Barcelona have finally abandoned their quest to land Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, 25, after having a series of bids for the Brazilian rejected, Spanish media reported on Friday.

The transfer deadline for Spanish clubs doesn’t close until midnight local time (2200GMT) on Friday, 24 hours after the rest of Europe’s major leagues.

However, despite reportedly making an offer of up to 160 million euros ($190 million) for the playmaker, Liverpool have refused to backtrack on their intention not to sell Coutinho.

“Barca will not sign Coutinho,” Barcelona-based sports daily Sport reported in their online edition, citing sources close to the player.

“The club has taken the decision to not insist in the final hours of the market.”

Barcelona have been under huge pressure to reinvest the 222 million euros the club banked from Neymar’s world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last month.

The Catalans have splashed 192 million euros on five signings, including 105 million on 20-year-old French winger Ousmane Dembele in a deal that could yet rise to 145 million depending on performance related bonuses.

Coutinho hasn’t played for Liverpool this season after submitting a transfer request with the club citing a back injury.

However, he showed no sign of discomfort as he came off the bench to score as Brazil saw off Ecuador 2-0 in World Cup qualifying on Thursday before appearing to break down in tears during his celebration.

“Unfortunately, instead of being a happy time for him, for his family, it’s a moment of anguish, disappointment and sadness,” Neymar said of his international teammate’s mood.

Liverpool have been steadfast in their intentions not to sell over the past month.

“The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes,” said a statement from Liverpool’s FSG ownership group on August 11.

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