La Liga 'lacking star player' after Messi's Barcelona exit
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Barcelona will reportedly offer Arsenal the chance to sign Philippe Coutinho as part of a swap deal for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it’s claimed. The Catalan giants are said to have reignited their interest in the Gunners captain, who penned a new long-term contract extension at the Emirates Stadium last summer amid interest from Barca.
Aubameyang was missing through illness on the opening day of the Premier League season as Arsenal were beaten 2-0 by Brentford.
Rightly or wrongly, his absence saw some supporters and pundits question his commitment to the club after a difficult campaign last season.
Barcelona were strongly interested in the Gabon international last year before Mikel Arteta eventually convinced him to stay in north London with a lucrative new deal.
Yet Aubameyang has not been the same player since, netting just 10 Premier League goals last season.
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Now Sky Sports are reporting that Barcelona are back in contention to sign the frontman having lost Sergio Aguero to injury for two months.
The former Manchester City striker primarily moved to Barca to play with Lionel Messi, who has now joined Paris Saint-Germain and now Aguero will miss two months of action.
It remains unclear whether Arsenal would be open to the idea of selling their highest-earner at this stage.
Arsenal were keen on adding another striker to their ranks this summer but any move was solely dependent on the sale of Alexandre Lacazette.
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Now there could be scope to offload Aubameyang and any deal could involve Coutinho returning to the Premier League.
The Gunners explored a potential loan for the Brazilian last summer before he eventually stayed put.
Coutinho played the best football of his career on English soil with Liverpool before sealing a mega-money move to Barcelona in January 2018 for an initial £106m.
The attacking midfielder has struggled with injuries in recent times though and has recently been recovering from knee surgery.
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Barcelona are keen to get his wages off the books and are therefore keen to include him as makeweight in a deal for Aubameyang.
It was only this morning that president Joan Laporta confirmed the club are in £1.15billion debt with club wages making up 103 per cent of the club’s total income.
“Our salaries represent 103 per cent of the club’s total income, that’s 20-25 per cent more than our competitors,” said Laporta.
“The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of 80m euros because, otherwise, we could not pay the salaries. The previous regime was full of lies.
“Barcelona has a negative net worth of 451m euros – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.”
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