Chelsea-linked Coutinho could still be at Barcelona next season, says head coach Setien

Philippe Coutinho Barcelona 2019
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The Spaniard insists that a man currently on loan at Bayern Munich is still highly valued, despite ongoing rumours over his future

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has opened the door for Philippe Coutinho to return to Camp Nou, insisting the Brazilian is still a "great player".

Coutinho completed a £142 million ($177m) move to Barca from Liverpool in January 2018 after spending the previous five years of his career in the Premier League.

The 27-year-old established himself as one of the most exciting and talented midfielders in European football during his time at Anfield but has been unable to reach the same heights in Catalonia.

Coutinho racked up 54 appearances across all competitions for Barca last season, scoring 11 goals while laying on five assists.

Indeed, the Brazil international played his part in the Blaugrana's successful La Liga title defence but Ernesto Valverde opted to start him out wide rather than in his favoured position in the middle.

Coutinho was widely criticised for his performances and Barca ultimately decided to ship him out on loan to Bayern Munich ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

The German giants have the option to sign Coutinho permanently when his contract expires later in the year but Chelsea are also reportedly keeping a close eye on his situation.

Setien, who replaced Valverde in the Camp Nou hot seat back in January, says he plans to sit down with the former Liverpool star to discuss his future, with a spot in his side still up for grabs.

"Coutinho? I like him very much," the 61-year-old told RAC 1 . "He is still a Barcelona player. You have to pay the clause or a transfer fee to Barca.

"I think he can be here at the beginning of next season. I don't know if he wants to come back or go away again, I have to talk to him to ask him. He is a great player, no doubt about it."

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Chelsea's interest in Coutinho was questioned by Stamford Bridge legend Frank Leboeuf earlier this month , who expressed his belief that Barca's reported £80m ($99m) valuation is far too high.

"You talk about Chelsea, ready to [pay] £80m," Leboeuf told ESPN . "I think it's too much for a player where you're not sure he's going to find the level he was, he used to be, at Liverpool and is not anymore."

Coutinho's recent progress at Bayern was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, which has called a temporary halt to the season across all of Europe's major leagues.

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