News ID: 207470
Published: 0245 GMT January 03, 2018

Liverpool to demand at least £130m for Coutinho

Liverpool to demand at least £130m for Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho hopes to complete a long-proposed move to Barcelona this month but it will take the second highest transfer fee in history for Liverpool to consider selling the Brazil playmaker.

Liverpool rejected three bids from Barcelona in the summer, the third worth up to €130 million (£119 million) and including €40m (£36.6 million) in add-ons, with Jürgen Klopp stating the 25-year-old was not for sale, the Guardian reported.

That stance has softened recently and Coutinho’s representatives have continued to explore the possibility of Liverpool sanctioning their client’s departure to the Camp Nou.

Coutinho remains determined to join the La Liga leader and, while a deal could be struck this month that would allow him to move in the summer, his preference is for a January departure.

The former Internazionale midfielder has responded impressively to his disappointment of the summer, when he had a transfer request rejected and missed the first few games of the season with a back injury.

He has scored 12 goals in 20 appearances and has played a significant role in Reds’ progress to the Champions League knockout stage.

Despite his wishes, Liverpool has yet to receive another offer from Barcelona and remains in a strong position over Coutinho’s future. He is under contract at Anfield until 2022 and has no release clause in the £150,000-a-week deal he signed only 12 months ago.

Barcelona would have to bid around €50 million more than they paid to make Ousmane Dembélé the second most expensive player in the world – behind Catalans’ former player Neymar – for Liverpool to contemplate a deal that could disrupt the second half of a promising season.

Coutinho missed the New Year’s Day win at Burnley owing to a minor thigh strain and is also doubtful for Friday’s FA Cup third-round home tie against Everton.

Nike, Barcelona’s kit supplier and a Coutinho sponsor, incorrectly announced a deal had been done on Saturday but Liverpool is not taking legal action over the story and Klopp dismissed it at Burnley, claiming he could not be less interested.

The Liverpool manager has been asked repeatedly about Coutinho’s mooted departure in recent weeks but unlike the summer and perhaps wary of upsetting an in-form player, he has been reluctant to state the Brazilian will remain at Anfield until the end of the season.

One such example came on Friday, when Klopp insisted he did not have to balance the books following Virgil van Dijk’s £75 million arrival at Liverpool and wanted to keep his squad intact.

When asked whether that applied to Coutinho, and whether he would say the player is not for sale this month, Klopp replied, “I try to be honest but you know that in January and all the next transfer windows I don’t talk about that. Phil especially. I have nothing to say about it. The only thing I am interested in is how Phil is playing at the moment. I was really happy about the last few performances and his impact. He showed his character in the games and in the training sessions. He was spot on. That is what I am interested in.

“All the rest I can’t and I am not interested in talking about because if I open the door you [the media] will run all the way through. In my business it makes absolutely no sense to talk about things that could maybe happen because that creates stories that are 90 percent of the time not true. Why should I do that? I will never do it, to be honest.”

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