Sorting through the Liverpool transfer rumours to start the week finds continuing interest in Philippe Coutinho, a new suitor for Sebastian Coates, and the possibility of a return to Spain for Pepe Reina.
With Victor Valdes unwilling to renew his contract at Barcelona, the Catalan club has begun its hunt for a replacement, and with distribution high on the list of priorities it was only a matter of time before Pepe Reina was linked. Reina began his career with Barcelona, graduating from La Masia and playing for for Barcelona's B and C teams before making 30 appearances for the first team between 2000 and 2002, and if the chance to return presented itself it is unlikely Liverpool could keep hold of him.
Reina's first stint with Barcelona was short lived, as with Roberto Bonano preferred in Reina's final season and Valdes pushing to join the first team he was loaned out to Villarreal for the 2002-03 season and from there soon made his way to Liverpool. Whether Reina would in fact be Barcelona's first choice to replace Valdes in the summer is far from clear given his poor form in recent seasons, but a history there as a youth player and his comfort on the ball have to at least make him a legitimate candidate.
"I am absolutely convinced that Pepe would be more than delighted to return to Barcelona," was his father's take on the matter when he spoke to Spanish radio station La Xerxa this week. "I would be delighted to see Pepe back at Barca, of course I would. To return would be extraordinary."
Elsewhere, rumours have a battle brewing over the opportunity to take centre back Sebastian Coates on loan, with Wigan joining West Brom as a potential Premier League destination. Given their uptempo passing game, Wigan would seem an ideal short-term destination—but then, so would West Brom and a reunion with Steve Clarke. Certainly either move seems a far better option than Coates spending a few more months on the bench at Liverpool, and the only stumbling block preventing his move to one of those two clubs appears to be Liverpool's inability to as yet bring in another defender to take his spot in the squad.
Moving from sales and loans to potential purchases, there is growing confusion as to whether Liverpool's initial bid for Inter Milan's Philippe Coutinho was £8M as originally reported. In the days since word broke that Liverpool were chasing the young Brazilian, outlets such as the Liverpool Echo have suggested figures as low as £5M, and Sky Sports insists it was a £6.75M offer. Regardless of how much Liverpool offered for Coutinho's services before the weekend, though, all are in agreement that an official bid was proffered and that interest remains strong, with further attempts to pry the player away from Inter Milan a certainty.
One of the brightest prospects to leave Brazil in recent years, a successful start to life at Inter in 2010 under Rafa Benitez and a strong showing on loan in La Liga with Espanyol in the second half of last season hasn't been enough to make Coutinho a permanent fixture in Italy under new manager Andrea Stramaccioni. With his progress stalling and Inter struggling financially, chances Liverpool could nab the 20-year-old attacking midfielder for less than £10M—a fee that would have seemed a massive bargain a few short season ago—seem good.
While Coutinho's capture appears a distinct possibility, rumours earlier in the month suggesting Bafetimbi Gomis could be a target now appear increasingly misguided. The 27-year-old French striker was first linked to Liverpool during Damien Comolli's tenure as Director of Football, and so the smart money was always on his being a name from the past recycled by lazy rumours mongers in search of content. Now, though, it seems unlikely Gomis will be heading to Liverpool this window—or anywhere else for that matter.
"Until the window closes there will be speculation," said Gomis, "but I want to finish the season here." Then again, Gomis' age and that he's really only suited to playing as a central striker likely meant he was never actually a target for Brendan Rodgers anyway.