EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea target Philippe Coutinho to replace Oscar
By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Chelsea are targeting Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Football Insider sources understand.
Manager Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of the Brazilian, who has been the Merseyside club’s outstanding performer this season.
Coutinho signed a new Liverpool contract in February which runs until 2020 but that has not stopped him being identified as a long-term Chelsea target.
The newly-crowned Premier League champions are ready to listen to offers for Oscar to make room in their squad for an attacking midfielder who Mourinho regards as better suited to the team’s requirements.
Coutinho, 22, has been the shining light in a disappointing season for Liverpool, scoring eight goals in all competitions and adding greater consistency to his all-round game.
The Brazilian, who joined from Inter Milan for £8million in January 2012, was one of the six players shortlisted for the PFA’s player of the year award.
Mourinho will reshape the Chelsea squad this summer but accepts the club must fall within Financial Fair Play guidelines, meaning he will have to raise funds by off-loading some players in order to recruit his prime targets.
Oscar, 23, is one of those who could leave Stamford Bridge if the London club’s £40m valuation can be met.
The 23-year-old, who will miss the rest of the season and this summer’s Copa America with a thigh injury, has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge in recent months after being a first-team regular in the opening half of the season.
Football Insider has learned that Mourinho is not convinced that Oscar’s style of play is ideally suited to the Premier League, particularly in away matches.
The Portugese is ready for Chelsea to cash in on the Brazilian, who was signed from Internacional for £25m in the summer of 2012.
Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are among the clubs who are considering Oscar, although it is unlikely the Serie A leaders would be willing to meet Chelsea’s £40m valuation.
The London club have sold some of their big-name players for substantial profits since Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge two years ago, with David Luiz, Juan Mata and Kevin de Bruyne among those who have been off-loaded.