Carlo Ancelotti must scrap Everton’s plans to replace James Rodriguez with former Liverpool hero Philippe Coutinho in a summer swoop on FC Barcelona.
According to reports in Spain, Ancelotti has given Marcel Brands the green light to utilise the Toffees’ excellent relationship with Barcelona in hopes of securing a deal for Coutinho to line up on the blue side of Stanley Park next season.
The Italian tactician is thought to be searching for his next midfield maestro amid doubt in Rodriguez continuing on at Goodison Park for another year, as the Colombian already wishes to leave England.
Coutinho is attracted by the prospect of playing under Ancelotti and by his ambitions of seeing Everton fight for silverware and becoming competitive in Europe for years to come.
Barcelona would also jump at the chance of offloading Coutinho to Everton at the end of the term as they look to draw a close on his frustrating chapter in Catalunya, and see the Brazilian follow Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina in moving to Merseyside.
Everton are expected to favour an initial loan deal for Coutinho that carries an option to buy the 28-year-old at the end of the 2021/22 campaign, or to strike a deal this summer that would see payment spread over the next two or three years.
Reports by Football-Espana last month discussing Arsenal’s rumoured interest in the 64-cap international as a potential replacement for Martin Odegaard also claimed Barcelona value Coutinho in excess of €50m (£43.5m).
Beyond Coutinho being a former Liverpool player, and one whom Luis Garcia suggested the Reds would build a statue for during his time at Anfield, Ancelotti must scrap his plans to replace Rodriguez with the Barcelona flop.
Coutinho has endured a nightmare spell in Spain since leaving Merseyside for the Camp Nou in a £142m deal in 2018, and has so far made just 90 appearances across all competitions due to a slew of injuries that stuck with him during a season on loan with Bayern Munich.
It remains to be seen if Coutinho – who Paul Robinson claimed is “world-class” and Darren Bent called a “superstar” amid links with Spurs last summer – will play again for Barcelona this season, having featured just 14 times while offering three goals and two assists to date.
Everton would no doubt be signing a player heavily out of fitness if a deal is secured this summer, and one whose career has been in free-fall since moving to Spain with Coutinho’s TransferMarkt valuation crashing from a peak £135m in October 2018 to £36m.
Coutinho’s value has not been so low since February 2017, before a sudden splurge of goal involvements with 15 goals and eight assists attracted Barcelona to make him the world’s third-most expensive player of all time at that point.
He failed to maintain that record at the Camp Nou with a goal involvement every 151 minutes, for a worse record than Rodriguez (125 minutes, six goals and nine assists) has offered Everton since being signed for free.
Coutinho would set Everton back far more than he could produce on the pitch if signed and plans to seal a deal must be scrapped regardless of Rodriguez’s long-term future.