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Barcelona close in on signing of Jean Seri and weigh up fourth Coutinho bid

Player of SSC Napoli Lorenzo Insigne vies with OGC Nice player Jean Seri during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Play-Offs Round First Leg match between SSC Napoli and OGC Nice at...

Barcelona are closing in on the signing of Jean Michaël Seri from Nice but still remain interested in luring Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool despite seeing a bid worth a potential £119m rejected on Friday.

Seri, who has also been tracked by a host of Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, is expected to complete his move to the Camp Nou for €40m (£36m) this week after his representatives arrived in Catalonia over the weekend to discuss the transfer. It is understood that the 26-year-old has already agreed personal terms with Barça, although the clubs are still negotiating over the structure of the fee.

Nice would prefer to retain Seri until after the second leg of their Champions League playoff against Napoli on Tuesday night but it is anticipated he could be presented later in the week. Arsenal had indicated that they were willing to match Nice’s asking price last week, while Liverpool also showed a late interest in recruiting the player who excelled in his side’s third-place finish in Ligue 1 last season, but Seri’s first choice was always Barcelona.

His impending arrival means Barcelona will have spent a little more than third of the record €222m fee received from Paris Saint-Germain for Neymar having also completed the purchase of Brazil midfielder Paulinho for €40m last week. Yet it is understood that Barça officials are still contemplating whether to return with a fourth bid for Coutinho, who made it clear that he would like to leave Anfield when he submitted a transfer request last week.

A third offer worth a guaranteed €90m (£82.3m) plus a staggering €40m (£36.6m) in add-ons, represented an increase of €5m and €25m respectively on their previous bids but it remains to be seen whether Liverpool would seriously entertain any further improvements.

Barcelona also retain an interest in Ousmane Dembélé, having seen a €100m bid for the 20-year-old France forward rejected by Borussia Dortmund earlier this month. The German club is holding out for at least €130m, with Dembélé still suspended after missing training in a bid to force through the transfer.

Dortmund’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke remains hopeful of retaining the player signed from Rennes last summer for just €15m and warned Barcelona that they must match their asking price or move on.

“We will give notice to our Catalan friends in some form,” he said.

Asked if Dortmund and Barcelona are in constant contact, Watzke added: “No, they know what we want to have. So we don’t have to be in regular exchange. They should tell us whether they want to or they should leave it. Then he is back with us on the first of September – there are only those two possibilities.

“The whole Bundesliga should maybe see how important it is that we are showing strength now. His behaviour is not only a topic on our door but could affect all 17 other clubs eventually. So they can be happy that we are ramming down a big, fat stop sign.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ed Aarons, for The Guardian on Sunday 20th August 2017 12.10 Europe/London

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