Arsenal hero gives verdict on Philippe Coutinho transfer rumours, says how close deal was

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PHILIPPE COUTINHO would have improved Arsenal but the Gunners were never likely to land the Barcelona ace, Nigel Winterburn claims.

The Brazil international was tipped to return to the Premier League in the summer window after a tough spell at the Nou Camp.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Liverpool were linked with a move for the 27-year-old, who has struggled to find form at Barcelona after quitting Anfield in January 2018.

However, the Premier League big boys failed to land the playmaker, with PSG now the most likely destination for Coutinho should he leave Barcelona.

It was claimed Coutinho could head to the Emirates on a loan deal, with the Spanish giants demanding a bumper fee for the temporary move.

However, Arsenal hero Winterburn says the Gunners were never likely to sign the former Liverpool ace.

“I don’t consider Arsenal missing out on Coutinho as a blow because I don’t think that it was ever realistic,” he told SportingBet.

“Some of the figures that were bandied about, I’ve read that the deal could be worth up to £40 million, would have been an incredible investment from Arsenal for a loan deal and something that just cannot happen.

“He’s a terrific player, I think he would enhance most squads, but I don’t see it as a missed opportunity, because I was never convinced it was an option.”

Arsenal had a busy summer window, with the Gunners breaking their transfer record to land Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners also signed Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos, David Luiz, William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli.

Pepe came off the bench during Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon to make his Gunners debut.

And Winterburn reckons Pepe will fit in perfectly at the Emirates under Unai Emery.

“Nicolas Pepe is the perfect signing for Arsenal, they have been desperate for a genuine wide man with pace to burn for a couple of seasons now and Pépé provides that threat,” he added.

“He is lighting quick, carries the ball well, he is terrific with the ball at his feet and is willing to put a good shift in for the team.

“I’m surprised that no other Premier League team challenged Arsenal for his signature, but Arsenal acted swiftly to make the signing happen which might have limited other clubs’ ability to get involved in the transfer speculation.

“He will need to be given the chance to settle in to the way that Arsenal play, but he is going to be vital to the team.

“He will allow Arsenal to counter-attack a lot more quickly than they did last season and it will free Lacazette and Aubameyang to focus on what they do best – get in behind defenders and score goals.”

I don’t consider Arsenal missing out on Coutinho as a blow because I don’t think that it was ever realistic

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