Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho sustained an injury in December 2020 and has been out of action since then.
However, it has been suggested that the Blaugrana are considering not playing him even when fit to avoid paying Liverpool an accumulated fee.
The report states that a clause in Coutinho's contract obliges the Catalans to pay the Premier League champions for a benchmark of matches played. However, it does not state how many games the 28-year-old has to play to be eligible.
Barcelona's current financial crisis means the club are considering all possible options to reduce costs.
At first glance, it might seem unfeasible for them to bench a marquee player, as this could be detrimental to achieving their season objectives.
However, benching Coutinho makes sense from both a sporting and financial perspective. The rise of youngster Pedri in his absence has made the Brazilian redundant to the team. The former Inter Milan man would have faced a battle to reclaim a starting spot regardless of this new revelation.
Coutinho has made just 14 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona this season, scoring three goals and providing two assists.
There are reports that Barcelona plan to offload him next summer, although it is unlikely that they will recoup a tangible percentage of the club-record fee they paid Liverpool in 2018.
Where did it go wrong for Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona?
A poll was recently conducted online, with fans voting for Philippe Coutinho as the worst big-money signing in Barcelona's history.
This is rather jarring, considering that several of the club's marquee arrivals in the last decade have been expensive flops.
It was not supposed to be like this. Coutinho's marriage to Barcelona had the hallmarks of being a perfect match on paper.
Things started brightly enough in his first half-season, laying a marker for what was to come when he had the benefit of a pre-season with his teammates.
That promise has, however, not been fulfilled, with a combination of injury problems and a loss of form seeing Coutinho's Barcelona career fade into mediocrity.
Even a loan spell at Bayern Munich did not help rejuvenate his career. It is a sorry sight to see a player who was considered one of the best in the world just three years ago struggle to make a mark at Camp Nou.