ESPN reported last month that Barca were reluctant to let the Brazil international leave unless a big offer arrived. Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain has eased the pressure on the club to get rid of their biggest earners.
Coutinho, 29, has not featured for Barca since last December due to injury and is not in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga, but Koeman said he could come into contention for next week’s clash against Getafe.
“Philippe needs another week of training before being in the squad,” Koeman said in a news conference on Friday. “For me, he’s a great player and he can be important for Barca. I am absolutely counting on him for this season.”
Coutinho has played 90 times for Barca, scoring 24 goals, since becoming their record signing when he joined from Liverpool for €160 million in 2018. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich but returned to Barca last season only to seriously injure his knee after just 14 appearances.
Sources told ESPN earlier this summer that AC Milan had sounded out a potential deal for Coutinho, while Arsenal were linked with a move for him this week before signing Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on Friday.
However, Coutinho instead looks set to remain at the Camp Nou, where he will be one of the players tasked with helping the club move forward in the post-Messi era.
One player, though, who could still leave is Ilaix Moriba. Talks over a new contract have broken down, with ESPN reporting last week that German club RB Leipzig want to sign him. Barca will ask for €15m for the young midfielder, whose deal expires in 2022.
As a result, Barca have sent Ilaix to train with the B team, while he’s not played any games for any of the club’s teams since last season.
Koeman, who handed Ilaix his first-team debut last season, says the situation disappoints him and warned the academy graduate against chasing the biggest contract on offer at this stage of his career.
“I think his situation is horrible,” Koeman said. “He is a young player, 18. He has had the chance to play for the first team. He’s the future of this club… and he’s in a situation where he’s not playing, not with us.
“I know what the club want to offer him. My advice to him is that money is not the most important thing. It is about playing games. But the player and his agents have decided differently. I am disappointed.”
Koeman also confirmed that Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti will have to look elsewhere if they want to play regular football this season, but said that he wants striker Martin Braithwaite, who scored twice in the 4-2 win against Real Sociedad last weekend, to stay.
Pedri, meanwhile, will finally get a rest after Saturday’s match against Athletic. The young midfielder played at Euro 2020 and the Olympic Games this summer before returning for Barca’s LaLiga opener against La Real at Camp Nou.
The 18-year-old will sit out Barca’s game against Getafe on Aug. 29 and will not be called up for Spain during the September international break following an agreement between Koeman and national team boss Luis Enrique.