Antonio Conte ‘put a block’ on Tottenham signing Philippe Coutinho despite Barcelona offer
Conte hints at changes for Tottenham's FA Cup tie with Morecambe
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Antonio Conte personally refused the chance to sign Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho for Tottenham Hotspur, according to reports. The ex-Liverpool ace completed a loan move to Aston Villa, where he will reunite with former teammate Steven Gerrard.
Coutinho’s stock has plummeted ever since he completed a seismic £142m move to Barcelona in the 2018 January transfer window.
Xavi’s side were desperate to offload Coutinho from their hefty wage bill so they could register new £55m signing Ferran Torres from Manchester City.
Arsenal, Everton, and Newcastle United were all linked with a move for the Brazilian before Gerrard and co stepped in to coax him over to Villa Park.
However, reports from the Daily Mirror understand Tottenham were in the running for the Brazilian, until Conte stepped in to prevent such a move from happening.
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The former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss is yet to complete a new signing for the north Londoners, but he reportedly went out of his way to block a move for Coutinho.
Tottenham have been linked with a multitude of midfielders in the January transfer window, but Coutinho does not appear to be one of those on Conte’s wish-list.
AC Milan box-to-box midfielder Franck Kessie, who has flown out to the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, appears to be one of Conte’s preferred choices.
His contract at Stefano Pioli’s side is set to expire at the end of the season but reports from Italian outlet Corriere della Sera claimed Tottenham wanted to sign him in the current window by offering Tanguy Ndombele in exchange.
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The Rossoneri are understood to have rejected this proposal and are still trying to convince the 25-year-old midfielder to put pen to paper on a new deal at the San Siro.
Meanwhile, Tottenham’s apparent refusal on Coutinho opened the door for Aston Villa to seal a sensational move for the Brazilian.
He arrives into the Midlands on a season long loan with the option to purchase at the end of the season for £33m.
However, the Mirror also claims Barcelona wanted to loan him to Villa for 18-months, rather than the current agreement which lasts until the end of the season.
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An 18-month deal would have taken Coutinho to the end of his contract at Barcelona, meaning he would have been allowed to depart the club for a free transfer at the end of next season.
Unfortunately for the Catalans, Villa were evidently not keen on the proposal as he will only spend the rest of the season at the club, unless they choose to sign him permanently at the end of his loan.
Coutinho only made 76 La Liga appearances for the Catalans since his arrival in January 2018, scoring 25 goals and contributing 15 assists.
He was also sent on loan to Bayern Munich by the club in the 2019-20 season, where he won the treble with the Bundesliga giants.
However, the Bavarians chose not to sign him permanently at the end of their loan deal, subsequently leading to Coutinho spending the vast majority of the next two seasons on the bench.
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