Why Barcelona Signed Philippe Coutinho Instead Of Its First-choice Target

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Barcelona saw Isco as the long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta but ultimately had to settle for Philippe Coutinho, a new report in Spain claims.
During Iniesta’s final years at the Nou Camp, Barca chiefs were beginning to look at potential replacements and Real Madrid star Isco was top of their list.
At the time, the Spanish playmaker was struggling for regular game time under manager Zinedine Zidane and was angling for a move to Barca.
Mundo Deportivo claims that Isco’s father and agent Paco Alarcon even opened discussions with Real’s fierce rivals over a move at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Real Madrid’s Isco in action with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi 

Isco is a keen admirer of Barcelona and has even named his dog after Lionel Messi, previously admitting “I named my dog ‘Messi’ because Messi is the best in the world, and so is my dog.”

But as that season drew to a close, the midfielder began to get regular football and was given a start ahead of Gareth Bale in the 4-1 Champions League final triumph over Juventus.

That saw a change of heart from Isco, who was not keen to anger Real fans by joining their arch-rivals, and in 2017 he eventually signed a new five-year deal to keep him at the Bernabeu until June 2022.
Barcelona was forced to turn their attention elsewhere, and eventually signed Liverpool star Coutinho in a £142million in January 2018.
Iniesta ultimately left Barca after a stellar spell that saw him win nine La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues to join Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe last May.
Coutinho has been unable to fill the void left by the legendary midfielder, however, and is yet to fully win over the Nou Camp faithful.
The Brazilian has nine goals and five assists in 41 appearances this term but has started just two of the last five league games.

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