Liverpool have changed the tune of their discourse over Philippe Coutinho and are now open to any eventuality: either selling the Brazilian playmaker in January or agreeing a deal for his transfer in the summer. Agreeing a fresh contract with the 25-year-old appears at this stage to be the least likely of outcomes given Liverpool’s acceptance that the player has made up his mind to leave and the fact that Barcelona have made little secret of their desire to add Coutinho and Atlético de Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann to their squad as a matter of priority in 2018.
Coutinho summer exit blocked
Last summer, the Anfield hierarchy closed the door on Coutinho’s prospective move to Camp Nou for a variety of reasons: allowing him to leave would have sent a message of institutional weakness that potentially could encourage Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino to seek similar moves in the future; the previous transfers of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Luis Suárez had an immediate detrimental effect on the team’s progression; Liverpool did not need the money and Jürgen Klopp's side were preparing for a Premier League title tilt for which Coutinho was seen as a key player.
During the protracted negotiations last summer, the agent used by Coutinho and Barcelona to broker the deal, Kia Joorabchian, claimed that Liverpool were asking for 200 million euros after not rejecting three offers outright and declaring themselves unwilling to meet with representatives from Camp Nou. Liverpool strenuously denied Joorabchian’s version of events. In any case, even after signing the most expensive defender in history in Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool still do not need the money but after taking a firm line on the issue within the boardroom there is an acceptance that there is little to be gained by keeping a player against his will. Therefore, Liverpool have adopted a less belligerent stance. “Everything has a solution,” and “you never know what will happen” are phrases that have been employed by Klopp when pressed on the matter.
No offer received for Coutinho as of the moment
As things stand, Liverpool have yet to receive an offer from Barcelona over which to adopt a position. But it is in the post and will be worth 110 million euros up front with an extra 40 million in add-ons. Josep Maria Bartomeu feels he has a moral obligation towards the player for the efforts Coutinho has made to force the transfer through: pressuring Liverpool with a supposed injury that caused him to miss the game against Burnley and will also see him absent for the FA Cup Merseyside derby against Everton on Friday. On the other side of the coin, Luis Suárez and Leo Messi are extremely keen on the arrival of a player who will improve a squad in need of reinforcements.
Barcelona plotting comprehensive squad revamp
Barcelona are planning on a major clear-out of up to eight players before next summer to finance the arrivals of Coutinho and Griezmann to forge a formidable team in line with the demands of the stars already on the books at Camp Nou.