Could Coutinho be on his way back to the Premier League?
Chelsea have been tipped to pursue Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho, bringing the former Liverpool star back to the Premier League this summer as a replacement for Eden Hazard, with the Belgian appearing increasingly likely to join Real Madrid.
Speculation regarding the uncertain future of Hazard has been growing for months. The Chelsea talisman has just one more season left on his contract and this summer is the Stamford Bridge club's best opportunity to sell him before he hits free agency next year.
Sky Sports have reported that Real Madrid are now 'confident' of signing the 28-year-old, which follows gossip earlier in the week that Hazard could earn as much as £400,000-per-week, after tax, as a result of the monstrous contract Los Blancos are said to want to offer.
The Spanish media are also extremely confident that a deal will be concluded before long.
Hazard's departure would leave Chelsea with a vast hole to fill, but there could be an easy solution. According to El Confidencial, the agents of Coutinho have met with Barcelona to inform the club of their client's concerns and learn what the Catalans are planning for the future, with the pre-arranged €86m arrival of Frenkie de Jong already posing a threat to the Brazilian.
It is alleged that Barça are willing to sell Coutinho and will do if an offer of €100m (£86m) is made. It would be a loss on the initial upfront fee (around £105m) the club paid Liverpool in 2018, but it still recoups most of it, while a sale also removes a big earner from the wage bill.
El Confidencial predict that the money Chelsea raise from selling Hazard could go on Coutinho.
It has previously been rumored that Coutinho would be reluctant to return to England after claims his family struggled to settle off the pitch. But that was related to gossip specifically of a return to Liverpool or shock move to Manchester United, and it remains to be seen if London, often considered more appealing for foreign players, would be viewed differently.
Of course, with every Chelsea transfer story at this moment in time, it will remain hypothetical until the club learns its fate with regard to appeals against a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.