Barcelona Confirms Plans For Coutinho & Braithwaite Amid Exit Rumors

Philippe Coutinho


Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman confirmed on Friday that he wants Brazil international Philippe Coutinho and Martin Braithwaite for the 2021-22 season despite continued speculation the duo could be sold.

Coutinho is yet to feature this season after undergoing knee surgery in April and has not been included in the squad for Saturday’s match at Athletic. However, Koeman confirmed he is close to a return and is very much in his plans for the new campaign.

“Philippe is out because I think he needs another week of training with the group before he can be called up,” he said. “Yes I choose to go with him because he’s a great player. He’s a player who could be important for Barca. He did play at the start of the season but he had injuries. Yes I am counting on him this season.”

Coutinho is expected to make his first appearance for Barcelona since December 2020 against Getafe at the Camp Nou on Sunday, August 29. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could also make his return at the same time after knee trouble.

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Koeman Hoping Braithwaite Stays

Koeman also said he hopes Braithwaite stays at the club. The Denmark international was mostly used as a substitute last season but started Sunday’s win over Real Sociedad, scoring twice and picking up an assist.

The Barcelona boss said the club’s financial situation means the Catalan giants are willing to listen to offers but he is hopeful that Braithwaite will stay on.

“We know the situation of the club. If there is an interest in a player, we will listen but Martin is doing very well for us. He plays in different positions at the top,” he added. “He showed the other day that he is important for the team. I love working with him. He is very disciplined. He accepts his role of not always playing. For me, I think he should stay.

Braithwaite’s agent, Hasan Cetinkaya, told Danish newspaper BT in June that the striker was happy at the Camp Nou and “will continue” with Koeman’s men.

Pjanic & Umtiti To Leave?

Two players who could depart before the close of the transfer window are defender Samuel Umtiti and midfielder Miralem Pjanic. Koeman admitted the duo’s situation at the club is “complicated” with both players deemed surplus to requirements.

Koeman has left the duo out of both of his matchday squads so far, while Barca has reportedly told Umtiti he has one week to find a new club. The club is considering terminating his contract if the Frenchman does not secure a transfer.

Meanwhile, Pjanic is thought to be close to a return to former club Juventus after just one season at the Camp Nou. The midfielder “is keen” to head back to Turin, but the Serie A side must reduce the wage bill first, according to Diario Sport.

Juventus could offload either Weston McKennie or Aaron Ramsey which would free up space for Pjanic. The report adds there is confidence a loan deal can be secured by the end of the transfer window.

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