Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is said to have reiterated his desire to leave Merseyside for Barcelona, with a deal possible for next summer.
The Reds resisted continued advances from their Spanish counterparts ahead of the current campaign, holding firm despite Coutinho’s request for a transfer.
Coutinho has since hit top form in the No. 10 shirt, scoring 12 goals and assisting nine in 20 appearances so far this season.
But just as his performance levels haven’t wavered, neither has the Brazilian’s stance over his future, according to Goal‘s Melissa Reddy.
Reddy writes that “Coutinho has repeated his insistence to trade Liverpool for Barcelona in a potential deal that would comfortably surpass the British transfer record.”
The club are said to have “unsuccessfully tried to alter Coutinho’s mind by presenting multiple incentives and a greater wage packet,” with the 25-year-old already earning £150,000 a week.
His representatives have “worked tirelessly” to soften the Reds’ stance, and an extended period has “allowed Liverpool to better prepare for his exit.”
It must be stressed, however, that any potential deal would be for next summer, and terms would need to exceed the £114.2 million package previously rejected.
But it does seem more likely that Liverpool will be receptive to talks over Coutinho’s exit at the end of the campaign.
The suggestion that the Reds are “better prepared” for their attacking talisman to depart comes during a season that has seen new signing Mohamed Salah step up to a key role.
Salah has scored 23 goals and laid on eight assists in 29 games so far since leaving AS Roma for Anfield in a £36.9 million deal in June.
Klopp can also plan around the pending arrival of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, with the 22-year-old Guinean poised to take up a focal position in Liverpool’s midfield.
Nevertheless, Coutinho leaving would still require a more like-for-like replacement, and Klopp has set his sights on AS Monaco’s Thomas Lemar.
Liverpool saw a bid of over £70 million for the France international turned down at the end of the summer window, but they have been tipped to return with an offer worth closer to £80 million.
Monaco have insisted Lemar isn’t for sale in January, but with Coutinho potentially leaving for Barcelona ahead of 2018/19, a similar agreement could be put in place for the 22-year-old.