A look at La liga
Spain and the UK already share so much, and now they are ready to divvy up a footballing soap-opera, suffering a month long plot line, with Phillipe Coutinho as the star.
The Coutinho saga ran all summer with an inconclusive final episode. Unlike his fellow Brazilian Diego Costa he buckled down and got on with playing, delaying his dream for when the transfer window was prised open again.
There are some media colleagues who live for the silly season, relishing the prospect of spending January speculating to a ready audience from a football club car park; I'm not one of them!
I prefer to work on facts rather than speculate, I genuinely don't know what is going on behind closed doors - I doubt that even the player himself does.
The facts are that Countinho would love to pull on the shirt of Barcelona and share a stage with Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez. It's a fact that his 'people' would like the commission for securing the deal. It's a fact that every player has a price, and a fact that Barcelona haven't met that price.
Don't say the column is over after four paragraphs!
Now we enter the grey areas. Liverpool's football fans and coaching staff don't want to lose their star player but the club's money men will point out that he's just a human commodity whose value can lower in the market. If Barcelona reach say, 150 million euros, then he'll be on the next low cost flight from John Lennon Airport. There will be a premium just like there was with Virgil Van Dijk and if that premium is paid then the deal is a goer.
Anyone who has ever participated in a Fantasy Football league will know that there are checks and balances and it's no different at the Nou Camp.
In order to find the fee, and more importantly wages, for Coutinho they have to release capital. At least four players have to be moved on to ensure they have the finances to do the deal.
Very few understand the Financial Fair Play rules but there must be someone in Barcelona who comprehends them as they have been publicly vociferous of Paris Saint Germain ever since Neymar's transfer broke all records.
It's my understanding that they have to reduce the percentage of income spent on players' wages, hence the cull in playing staff.
It's ironic that Liverpool's great rivals Everton could be doing them a favour by enquiring about the services of Arda Turan. He'd be one big unnecessary salary off the books. Another three and Barcelona will have enough in the piggy bank to take to the Euro exchange.
Fans don't see it like this though. Barcelona fans would welcome an international class talent and Liverpool supporters would lament the loss of one of the so called “Fab Four”.
It's argued that Barcelona are so far ahead in La Liga there's no desperation to sign a player who can't turn out in the Champions League. The manager Ernesto Valverde is probably thinking laterally though, as the introduction of Coutinho would allow him to use others more sparingly. For example Andrés Iniesta generally starts matches but rarely finishes them so a capable alternative would give him the odd break.
My Sky colleague Jamie Carragher reasons that a deal should be cut to allow Coutinho to fulfil his ambition in the summer. There are a couple of dangers here though. The obvious is the threat of injury to the player. I think there is another danger, the continued excellence of Mo Salah. The Egyptian has been even more impressive than Coutinho for me in the first half of the season and if Barça have 150 million euros going spare they may choose to invest it in an alternative Anfield star.
The above is inconclusive I know, but every cent raised by a Barcelona outgoing means the incoming is a little more likely.