Barcelona will have to strike a deal for long-term target Philippe Coutinho during the January transfer window if they are to avoid paying an absolute premium. That is because Real Madrid have allegedly joined Paris Saint-Germain in showing interest in the Brazilian.
According to Mundo Deportivo (MD), Barcelona risk the price increasing from an already eye watering €150m if they cannot seal a deal before Real and PSG become involved and force the number up even higher in a potential bidding war.
The Catalan publication, which has consistently ignored contestations from Liverpool that Coutinho is not for sale at any price to push Barça's transfer agenda, claims that Real have enquired as to the player's contract situation at Anfield.
In MD's version of events, neither Real nor PSG would move for Coutinho until June at the earliest, giving Barça the month of January to attempt to strike a deal without any competition.
Real and PSG would both have to sell players before going after the Liverpool favourite, which is not a particularly feasible tactic midway through the season.
It is also said that Real's apparent interest has done little to dissuade Coutinho that his future lies at Camp Nou, with his intention still very much to join Barcelona rather than head to Madrid.
Were Coutinho to join Barça in January, he would be ineligible to play in Champions League games for the remainder of the season after already playing in the competition for Liverpool. But it was reported last month that isn't a dealbreaker for the Catalans, with coach Ernesto Valverde said to feel the player would still offer a valuable option in La Liga and Copa del Rey games.