Liverpool have pushed ahead with their efforts to keep Philippe Coutinho at Anfield, beginning talks with the Brazilian over a new contract.
Coutinho’s current deal runs until the end of the 2019/20 campaign, but this is only believed to be on a weekly salary of around £75,000, which puts him below a number of his team-mates.
Daniel Sturridge, James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane are all said to earn more than the playmaker, and his performances over the last two seasons demand parity.
This may be the case in the near future, with the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe reporting that the Reds have opened talks with Coutinho over extending his current contract.
Coutinho has risen to the fore as one of Liverpool’s best and most important players under Jurgen Klopp, as his recent layoff with an ankle injury served to prove.
The 24-year-old was sidelined during November’s 2-0 win at home to Sunderland, which kept him out of nine games in all competitions, and he is yet to complete a full 90 minutes since his return.
But he was instrumental to Liverpool’s 11-game unbeaten run in the Premier League from August to November, with his absence prompting defeat away to Bournemouth at the beginning of December.
His fluency, creativity and attacking instinct make him a key outlet drifting inside from the left, and tying him down for the long term is imperative.
Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have both been heavily linked with moves for Coutinho this season, but Liverpool have remained adamant they will not sell their No. 10.
Speaking earlier in January, Klopp dismissed speculation surrounding Coutinho’s future, saying “he is our player and that is it.”
“We never had any ideas or plans or any talks about him leaving, because he is our player. There are no other ideas, nothing has changed,” he explained.
“Big clubs [aren’t put off by injury] unfortunately. It was not a big injury so there was no question of him not being the same player afterwards.
“It would be nice if big clubs forgot about a player completely because he’s been injured for five or six weeks.
“I’m not sure it’s like this though, but he is our player and that is it.”
It does seem convenient that reports of Coutinho entering contract talks comes on the back of Liverpool’s worst run of the season so far, however, with the club desperately in need of positive PR.
Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi and Alberto Moreno were all touted with new deals back in October, but none of these have been announced as of yet.