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Arsenal report: Philippe Coutinho to be loaned out next month, as Mikel Arteta pushes hard for top four


Arsenal plan to bring Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho to the Emirates Stadium on a superb loan deal for the remainder of the season.

This is according to Sport via Sports witness, who say the 29-year-old could return to the Premier League, after a scorching spell at Barcelona after signing for more than £ 100million.

Arsenal have long been interested in the Brazilian and have been linked with a move for him during his various fights in Spain. With the Gunners looking for a Champions League berth next season, perhaps now is the time to add a touch of proven quality to compliment the many youngsters on the squad.

Former Liverpool star Coutinho may have floundered in La Liga but played at the highest level. With Arsenal on the verge of losing Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny for the Africa Cup of Nations – and Barcelona eager to get rid of the stars to balance the books – a move could make sense for all parties.

Arsenal’s roster has been settled recently, with manager Mikel Arteta keeping the same XI for four consecutive Premier League games. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Albert Sambi Lokonga both missed last night’s League Cup clash with Sunderland due to illness, forcing Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard to sink further into midfield.

Coutinho would likely play at No.10 for the Gunners, with Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli both having impressed on the left for Arsenal in recent weeks. Odegaard could well be used deeper as a No.8 in the absence of other stars, giving Coutinho a license in attack.

Likewise, Dani Ceballos was originally more of a No.10 or No.8 in a midfield, as was Coutinho. Arteta ultimately reshaped the Spaniard to play in a double pivot – and could do the same with the ex-Liverpool star. And given the connection Arsenal have had with the Brazilians lately – Martinelli and defender Gabriel are both internationals now, while the club have also signed Chelsea pair David Luiz and Willian under the guidance of compatriot and technical director, Edu – the Gunners may well have a culture Coutinho enjoys off the pitch.

While this move makes sense in many ways, it might not happen for a number of reasons. Coutinho is in desperate need of the minutes and with Arsenal’s shaped youngsters all shooting he might not step into what is an already tight-knit and confident first XI. The Gunners lack firepower – thanks to the recent downfall of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – and while Arteta may seek to move his struggling ex-captain to Barca in exchange for someone else, Coutinho is not. in no case a replacement.

On a short-term loan, Coutinho can add sparkle – but his arrival would also raise the expectations of a young group and potentially throw the team off balance, in much the same way that Willian’s spectacularly disappointing stint was received in the north London. Arteta’s priority remains a striker, while alternate right-backs are also being considered.

Arsenal are also reportedly interested in Camp Nou’s Frenkie De Jong, Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto.

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