?Following the record-breaking departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, Barcelona pursued Liverpool talisman Philippe Coutinho with a vengeance throughout the remainder of the transfer window as a replacement for the Brazilian forward.
While the move didn’t come off, Barcelona are apparently still eager to land Coutinho in 2018, with reports claiming that they will line up more bids for him in January.
However according to Spanish rumours site ?Don Balon, Lionel Messi has told Barcelona to give up their chase for Coutinho in order to pursue two Premier League alternatives.
??Messi supposedly believes Barcelona should instead try to sign Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen, or Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. The report claims that while Messi would welcome the arrival of Coutinho at Barcelona, he believes that the £150m it may take to sign him is too high.
De Bruyne and Eriksen represent two perfect alternatives to Coutinho, who Messi (as far as Don Balon are concerned) sees as on the same level as the Brazilian.
Whether De Bruyne would represent a cheaper alternative for Barcelona is highly questionable, with the Man City midfielder, enjoying his finest season to date. The Belgian, who already has two goals and six assists in the Premier League this term, is a strong early contender for Player of the Year.
Messi believes that either of Eriksen or De Bruyne can become the successor of the ageing Andres Iniesta. The 33-year-old was recently given a lifetime contract with Barcelona, but may soon find his time at the club coming to an end.