Jose Mourinho has claimed that Philippe Coutinho would have joined Barcelona this summer for £101million if Paul Pogba had still been the world’s most expensive player.
The Manchester United manager explained how Neymar’s £199million world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in early August changed the landscape forever on player values and had immediate and significant repercussions.
Mourinho explained how the prices rocketed in the final weeks of the window following the Brazilian’s staggeringly expensive move from Barca, which demolished the previous record set when Pogba joined United last summer.
The Spanish giants made a series of enormous bids for Coutinho, who made it clear he wanted to leave, but Liverpool refused to buckle even after a third offer of £118million was tabled for their prize asset.
Mourinho assessed a window in which United were hailed for some key signings, headlined by the big-money captures of Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof.
“I think we were very clever,” Mourinho told the Times. “We thought that something could happen that could change the market forever.
“Normally the last part of the market is less expensive, but this season, after Neymar [left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record £199million deal], everything changed — and changed for the worse in terms of prices.
“I think Lukaku on August 31 would have been £150million. Matic would have been £60million or £70 million. Neymar changed everything. If the biggest transfer in history had still been Pogba, I think Philippe Coutinho [the Liverpool playmaker] would now be in Barcelona at £101million.
“People look to the £200million figure now. Now the players of £20million became £40million, the players of £40million became £60million and everything changed.
“Lukaku and Matic, now, would have cost us £200million in total. But because we did it in the first part of the summer, it was much less.
“I think we did well in financial terms and well in preparation terms, getting them before the season started. That is not crucial but it is important.”
Mourinho’s view is a fascinating and illuminating one. Intriguingly, he claims United got wind that PSG were going to obliterate the transfer record and pressed ahead with their own mega-money deals, with the Lukaku deal eventually wrapped up for a potential £90million. That seemed an awful lot at the time for a striker who is not quite the finished product, far from it, but sheds some light on a window in which the transfer game changed forever.