Newcastle United are 'already speaking' to Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho and his representatives over a summer move to St James' Park, as the Premier League club begins to plan for life post takeover.
The Magpies are the subject of a controversial £300m bid from a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. And subsequently, there is plenty of talk over the expectations for the club for next season, should the deal go through.
The takeover is far from confirmed, however - with reports on Tuesday claiming that the move is in 'serious doubt' after the World Trade Organisation ruled the Saudis were behind a pirate satellite TV and streaming service which is in breach of international law.
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Nevertheless, the Magpies are still drawing up a list of summer targets in preparation for the takeover, with Barça playmaker Coutinho at the top of their wish-list.
According to Mundo Deportivo, the 27-year-old could be on his way back to England, as Newcastle have already begun talks with the Brazilian, outlining their intentions and long-term objectives.
The Magpies are weighing up a managerial change in the summer to improve the club's position, with both Mauricio Pochettino and Rafa Benitez being courted as potential replacements for Steve Bruce. And it is believed that both coaches have given the Coutinho transfer the green light, should they be handed the role as the next Newcastle boss.
Coutinho is currently on loan at German champions Bayern Munich, who do hold an option to buy the midfielder at the end of the season, but his less than impressive performances over the course of the campaign have dissuaded them from paying the agreed €120m fee.
There is also the possibility that the Bavarian giants could attempt to renegotiate the purchase fee, or even organise a second season-long loan to give Coutinho another chance to shine in the Bundesliga, but Barça would prefer to receive a full transfer fee for their failing investment.
The Catalan club is under pressure to offload a number of players to ease their hefty payroll, and finding a willing buyer for Coutinho would relieve the financial pressure considerably. And although Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal have all expressed their interest in signing the ex-Red, it is Newcastle who are in the driving seat - provided the long-awaited takeover actually goes through, of course.
But it's not guaranteed that the ex-Liverpool man's time at Camp Nou is officially over either, with current coach Quique Setien confessing that he still appreciates the superstar, and would welcome him back into the Barça fold.
Source : 90min