Philippe Coutinho ‘favours’ Arsenal switch Ahead Liverpool as Barcelona exit looms

Philippe Coutinho has accepted that he needs to leave Barcelona in the coming weeks and is believed to favour a loan move to Arsenal.

The 29-year-old has made 16 appearances in all competitions this season, but he has struggled for minutes under new manager Xavi and has fallen behind a whole host of academy graduates in the pecking order.

Ferran Jutgla and Ez Abde are the latest players to emerge as obstacles for Coutinho, joining Memphis Depay, Martin Braithwaite, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Gavi and new signing Ferran Torres.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Coutinho recognises that his chances of playing, which are already slim, are only going to drop once that group is entirely fit. He still harbours hopes of going to the 2022 World Cup and appreciates that he’s unlikely to make the Brazil squad as it stands.

A 63-cap international, Coutinho hasn’t played for his country in over 12 months, with injuries and a lack of form seeing him tumble down in Tite’s estimations.

In terms of suitors, Newcastle United have been aggressive in their pursuit of Coutinho, but the player himself has no interest in moving to St James’ Park either on loan or permanently.

Sport note that Coutinho’s agents are working on three potential leads: Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

While talks with that trio are far from advanced, Coutinho and his representatives have made it clear that they would favour a move to Arsenal.

His agents offered Coutinho’s services to Arsenal earlier this month and the Gunners were initially unconvinced, although their interest has been piqued by suggestions that Barcelona will subsidise his wages to seal an exit.

Despite that, manager Mikel Arteta will be reluctant to change his forward line too much. Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard have all impressed in recent weeks, with Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe also pulling their weight.

A run of eight victories from their last 11 Premier League games has led Arsenal up to fourth in the Premier League table, although Tottenham could overtake them if they win their two games in hand.

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