Arsenal almost completed deal for in-demand £54m star, says Fabrizio Romano

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Arsenal finally look to be moving in the right direction.

The north London side have struggled for several years since the departure of club legend Arsene Wenger.

Some would argue that the downward spiral started before he left, but at least he had the club competing for the top four.

Unai Emery's reign was a bit of a disaster, but since Mikel Arteta took over as boss things have been moving forward.

Some much-improved performances on the pitch led the club to FA Cup glory last term, while some shrewd business in the transfer market has set them up perfectly for the season ahead.

Key deals to sign the likes of Willian, Gabriel, Alex Runarsson and Thomas Partey have significantly improved the squad - not to mention the huge deal that convinced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stick around at the club.

But according to reports the summer could have been even more impressive.

One player who looked certain to move on was Philippe Coutinho.

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Valued at £54million by Transfermarkt, the Barcelona star looked set to leave the Nou Camp after spending last term with Bayern Munich.

However with Ronald Koeman in charge, he was handed a lifeline with the Catalan giants.

Plenty of clubs were said to be keen on a move for the former Liverpool man, with journalist Fabrizio Romano claiming that the Gunners were 'really close' to a deal.

Speaking to the Blood Red Podcast, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo, Romano said: "Before, Barca were considering to sell Philippe Coutinho and he was on the list to sell, so his agents were working to offer him to Tottenham, to Arsenal.

"Arsenal were really close and at the start of August, they were ready. But once Koeman arrived, he understood it was difficult to sign other players, for example Memphis Depay."

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GIVEMESPORT'S Phil Spencer says...

What a deal this would have been.

Philippe Coutinho is a top level player who, in my opinion, is capable of playing for the biggest and best clubs in the world.

For Barcelona to consider moving him on was madness - something that was shown by the calibre of clubs that were said to be interested.

Coutinho would have been a perfect fit for Mikel Arteta at Arsenal, and it's just a shame that the move never materialised.

With a fresh opportunity emerging at the Nou Camp it seems that a move is now unlikely, but never say never.

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