Transfer negotiations are like a game of high stakes poker, where both sides attempt to simultaneously give nothing away, calculate the quickly evolving financial implications and – above all – remain absolutely unruffled. It then becomes a case of who blinks first.
And in the transfer negotiation between Liverpool and Barcelona over Philippe Coutinho, it appears that it is the English side who have finally blinked.
In fact, they have done more than blinked. They have slapped their cards face down on the table, started sulkily packing up their chips and declared that they are not going to play anymore because the other players are all idiots. So there.
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As Barcelona made a third bid of £114m for the Brazilian playmaker, the Mirror reports there is “growing anger” at Anfield about the “games” being played by the Catalan giants. So much so that Liverpool have gone full-on drama queen and “told Barcelona not to contact them again”.
The main point of contention, according to the Mirror, is that Barca haven’t really offered them £114m at all. The “true figure” is actually £80m plus a series of fantastical add-ons – such as Coutinho winning the Ballon D’Or, or Barca winning “multiple” Champions League titles, or Daniel Sturridge going an entire season without getting injured.
Plus, even the £80m will be staggered over five years. Therefore, the Reds have “flatly rejected” Barca’s latest bid.
The problem for Liverpool is that the poker game hasn’t finished yet, and the other player is still sat patiently at the table pondering another raise.
Mega summer investment
A similarly gruelling negotiation is taking place between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid over Diego Costa. The Sun says the Spanish club are refusing to bow to the Blues’ £50m valuation and are instead “only willing to offer £30m”. Still not a bad sum for a guy who sits at home in a Brazilian village watching TV all day.
Manchester United will let David de Gea move to Real Madrid next summer, claims the Sun, but only if they can sign AC Milan’s teenage sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma to replace him between the sticks – something that would only happen if the Rossoneri fail to qualify for the Champions League. A couple of rather big ifs there, especially considering the Serie A side’s mega summer investment.
Of more immediate concern to Red Devils fans is the claim from dubious website Premium Sport that Ivan Perisic is set to sign a new deal at Inter Milan, ending months of speculation about a move to Old Trafford and bringing “relief” to Inter boss Luciano Spalletti. And everyone else.
That deal could be especially good news for Chelsea, who the Mirror says will respond by swooping for Perisic’s team-mate Antonio Candreva in a £25m move.
Elsewhere, Tottenham are in “advanced talks” to sign highly rated Argentine defender Juan Foyth after seeing off competition from Inter and Paris Saint-Germain (Guardian), PSG have “ruled out” the sale of alleged Arsenal and Liverpool target Julian Draxler (ESPN) and Manchester City have been told they must offer “at least £30m” to sign West Brom centre-back Jonny Evans (Times). As it’s City, they’ll probably offer £35m just to make sure.