No matter how hard Liverpool try to ignore the questions and ongoing speculation, January is going to be the biggest test of their resolve. And in the aftermath of Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow, the Merseyside club were dealt a crushing blow.
Philippe Coutinho, consistently linked with a move to Barcelona, was asked after the game where his future lies, and his answer was not what Liverpool wanted to see with the January transfer window opening in a few weeks.
“I do not know how the future is going to be. What will happen in January, we will know it in January. I do not know if there will be an offer. Last summer there was a job offer in the same way that happens with any employee and I was interested in it,” he said, reports talkSPORT.
The Brazilian international has been the subject of four bids from Barcelona, the last of which was reportedly £120m (€138m) and submitted on deadline day of the summer transfer window. Liverpool rejected their offer and maintained their stance that their best players weren’t for sale, but it seems Coutinho is considering a move.
Fans noted he didn’t raise a smile after scoring a hat-trick in Wednesday’s 7-0 win over Spartak, and his admission of being interested in Barcelona’s bid is a big blow for Liverpool. The club’s chief executive Peter Moore admitted he couldn’t guarantee Coutinho would stay at the club, saying: “I have no crystal ball”.
The 25-year-old joined Liverpool from Inter Milan for £11.7m in 2013, and has gone on to contribute 95 goals in 195 games. He signed a new deal with the Reds in January, earning a payrise in exchange for dropping a release clause from the contract, which puts Liverpool in a fantastic negotiating decision.
Barcelona, however, aren’t giving up in their pursuit of Coutinho, and the interest is clearly mutual given he handed in a transfer request at the start of this season. Liverpool have a £120m bomb under the table, and eventually they’re going to have to address it before it all blows up in their face.
Stats from Transfermarkt.