Liverpool persistently rebuffed Barcelona’s summer approaches for Philippe Coutinho, telling the Catalan club that “no sum” could persuade them to sell the Brazil international, in Football Leaks documents made public by Spiegel.
Barca were seeking a replacement for Neymar, who had been sold in a world-record deal to Paris Saint-Germain, and had turned their attention to the Anfield star.
So confident of securing the player’s signature, they had drafted a 20-page employment contract for the Brazilian and had even set the date for his arrival to be August 31. Coutinho would have received €115 million over five years, putting him between Luis Suarez and the likes of Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta in the club’s salary scale.
Meanwhile, his agent would have earned €10m had the transfer fee been less than €100m.
A first offer was made by Barca on July 20, though it was rebuffed by the Premier League side. Michael Edwards, Liverpool's sporting director, wrote in an email to Oscar Grau, chairman of Barcelona’s management board: “Unfortunately, Philippe can not be sold at any price and, as you know, has recently extended his contract with us.”
Several days later, Barca launched a second, “significantly improved” approach for Coutinho. The Camp Nou club came back with an offer of €90m plus bonus payments that could have totalled €40m.
Edwards, however, would not be moved. “I would kindly ask you to refrain from showing interest in Philippe both privately and publicly. No sum will lead up to reverse our decision,” he told Grau.
Coutinho made his first Premier League start for the Reds following the summer's drama in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Burnley and was then involved in the midweek Carabao Cup exit to Leicester City.