Philippe Coutinho close to join Arsenal

Arsenal are reportedly in talks with Barcelona over a deal for Philippe Coutinho which could involve Matteo Guendouzi going the other way.

Coutinho has been widely tipped for a return to the Premier League ahead of next summer, with the former Liverpool attacker surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.

Chelsea, Tottenham, Leicester City and Newcastle United have all been linked with the 28-year-old, as well as FA Cup finalists Arsenal.

Guendouzi’s Emirates future has been thrown into doubt after the midfielder was dropped by boss Mikel Arteta following his antics against Brighton last month, when he grabbed Neal Maupay around the throat.

And the Gunners and Barcelona are in talks over a swap deal involving the two players, according to Foot Mercato.

The publication says Arsenal technical director Edu has long courted Coutinho, while Guendouzi has been held in similar esteem by Barcelona chiefs.

Barcelona are keen to get Coutinho off the wage bill with the midfielder having failed to hit the heights he enjoyed at Liverpool since his transfer to Catalonia in January 2018.

The Brazilian is contracted to Barcelona until 2023, so will the club a fortune if he stays to see out his contract.

In a straight cash deal he would cost upwards of £60million, which would be a stretch for Arsenal given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with Arteta having been told he must sell before he can buy this summer.

Therefore, the Gunners boss must find more creative solutions – and a swap between Coutinho and Guendouzi would make sense after the French midfielder was left out of the squad for Arsenal’s last eight games.

Arsenal’s priority this summer is signing defenders and then holding midfielders.

However, the Gunners have an unusual relationship with Coutinho via his agent which could help engineer a move.

Kia Joorabchian is an Arsenal fan and is good friends with Edu. He also represents Gunners defenders David Luiz and Cedric Soares.

It remains to be seen whether Joorabchian’s relationship with Arsenal and Coutinho’s desire to return to the Premier League come together for what would be one of the most sensational transfers of the summer.