Barcelona are prepared to pay up to £140 million (€157 million) for Philippe Coutinho and hope the staggering sum, the second-highest transfer fee in history, will tempt Liverpool to sanction the playmaker's sale this month.
Liverpool have yet to receive an official bid from the Spanish league leaders in this window but are braced for Barcelona's fourth offer in total, having rejected three approaches last summer. The Anfield club have in mind a base figure of around €150 million for the Brazil international and Barcelona's determination to sign Coutinho in January is expected to surpass that figure.
Jürgen Klopp, with the backing of Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owner, will then have to decide whether a sale is beneficial to his club.
Coutinho, whose representatives have continued to explore the possibility of a January deal between the two clubs, is increasingly hopeful that the proposed terms will break the impasse. Barça’s third offer last summer was €130 million but included €40 million in add- ons, a package insufficient to break Liverpool’s resolve.
In contrast to last summer, however, Liverpool have refused in recent weeks to declare that Coutinho is not for sale. Klopp was again circumspect on the forward's future yesterday. Coutinho's continued desire to move to the Camp Nou has overshadowed Liverpool's impressive start to the year and their build-up to today's FA Cup third-round derby against Everton.
But the Liverpool manager, who will be without the 25- year-old for the Cup tie because of a minor thigh injury, refused to be drawn on the future of his influential playmaker. “There is no moment in January when I will talk about this, that’s how it is,” said Klopp. “If anything happens to any player, Phil or whoever, and if something happens, we can talk about it but not before. The summer was a different situation. Now it is like it is . . . still rumours, Nike, other people.
“Really, my first job is to prepare the healthy fit players for the next game. That is my first job. I am not the chancellor of Liverpool FC and have to talk about all the other things before saying: ‘By the way, can we play football as well?’ We play football. If nothing happens I will not talk about this until 31 January and then it might not be interesting any more.”
Klopp’s reference to Nike concerned a false advertisement on the company’s website on Saturday, also linked to Barcelona’s official website, announcing Coutinho’s arrival from Liverpool. The link was quickly deleted and Liverpool are taking no action against Nike, Barcelona’s kit supplier and a Coutinho sponsor.
Klopp said he expected the Brazilian to be fit for Liverpool's next Premier League game against Manchester City on January 14th. He also presented Liverpool's form this season as evidence his team are not distracted by Barcelona's pursuit of their colleague.
He added: “They are professional football players. Sometimes they are in the middle of the story and sometimes they are sat next to the guy in the dressing room who is in the middle of the story. These young boys are used to this from a really early age and are used to ignoring things around them. If they are smart enough they ignore most of it.”
Klopp confirmed Mohamed Salah will also miss tonight's derby through injury but the world's most expensive defender, Virgil van Dijk, could make his debut following his £75 million move from Southampton.
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce has confirmed Everton are on the brink of signing Cenk Tosun and hope to register the Turkey international in time for tonight's game.
Everton have agreed a deal rising to £27 million (€30 million) for the striker following talks with the Besiktas president, Fikret Orman, in London on Wednesday. Tosun has still to finalise a four and a half year contract at Goodison Park and pass a medical but, providing both are completed before midday today, the 26-year-old could feature in the Everton squad for the third-round tie at Anfield. – Guardian