Coutinho Grabs Messi Shirt

Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona have communicated to Philippe Coutinho that they view him as an important member of their squad – and have even discussed giving the playmaker the club’s coveted No 10 shirt.

Coutinho’s future has been called into question this summer and he has been linked with a move away from the Nou Camp; Arsenal among the clubs connected with the 29-year-old.

But the Spanish giants want the former Liverpool star to remain in Catalonia this summer, a stance the player is aware of.

Indeed, it is understood that Coutinho has been offered the club’s historic No 10 squad number – which has just been vacated by the legendary Lionel Messi.

Coutinho was assigned the No 14 shirt by Barca last season, making as many appearances under Ronald Koeman.

The midfielder was stripped of his shirt number earlier last week amid reported interest from Lazio as his No 14 was given to Rey Manaj, who has been promoted from the B team.

The Brazilian is still to be given a squad number this season, but the prospect of taking Messi’s No 10 jersey isn’t something that necessarily appeals to Coutinho.

Lazio were reported to be interested in a loan move for Coutinho with the option to buy him permanently thereafter for £25million.

While Barcelona were looking to offload the Brazilian in a swap deal with Arsenal that would see the Gunners captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrive at the Nou Camp, according to reports by Sky Sports

Nevertheless, it appears Barca are keen to keep hold of the attacking midfielder ahead of the transfer deadline on August 31.