It may be hard to admit for Liverpool and their fans but they are fighting a losing battle when it comes to keeping Philippe Coutinho out of the clutches of Barcelona.

The game was, in reality, over the moment representatives from the Catalan club flew to England to try to conclude a deal for the gifted Brazilian.

Barcelona want Coutinho, Coutinho wants Barcelona. A deal will be struck eventually – although it may not happen until next summer if the Reds truly stand firm in the coming weeks.

For Barcelona, Liverpool’s No.10 is a player who can solve two different problems.

If the La Liga club are unable to poach Ousmane Dembélé from Borussia Dortmund, then Coutinho could this season fill the gaping hole left by Neymar’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain.

But the long-term plan is for the 25-year-old to be the successor to the genius that is Andrés Iniesta. The Barca captain turned 33 years old in May and, despite his brilliance, is beginning to slow down.

Iniesta can still pull strings like few others and can weave past opposition defenders with a simple and subtle hip swerve, however, he can’t play 40-plus games a season as Barcelona’s conductor.

And that’s where Coutinho comes in. He was used as a No.8 by Jürgen Klopp towards the end of last season and impressed in the role, especially in a comfortable win over West Ham United at the London Stadium.

However, is he ready to replace one of the finest midfielders ever to grace the game? We’ve taken a look at both players’ stats from last season to see if Coutinho is ready to be Iniesta’s heir at the Camp Nou.

Coutinho-iniesta-comparison

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