Liverpool Transfer News: Philippe Coutinho Reportedly Wants Barcelona Guarantee

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2017

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring their fifth goal and completing his hattrick during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Liverpool and Spartak Moscow at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on December 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho reportedly wants assurances from the Reds he'll be allowed to join Barcelona in the summer, striking a compromise that would give the club the opportunity to start their search for a replacement.

According to the Sunday Mirror's John Richardson, Barcelona are expected to make yet another attempt to sign the Brazilian in January after failing with three offers in the summer. Coutinho is thought to be desperate to join the Catalans and wants the Reds to guarantee he'll get his wish by the end of the season.

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (C) plays the ball between Spartak Moscow's Russian midfielder Denis Glushakov (L) and Spartak Moscow's German defender Serdar Tasci (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Liv
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

It's but the latest in a long line of reports on the saga, and all signs point at an imminent departure. Mundo Deportivo's Xavier Munoz (h/t the Daily Star's Jack Staplehurst) previously reported the 25-year-old wants the club to agree to a fixed price with the Blaugrana.

While plenty of fans remain defiant, believing the club should fight off the La Liga giants at all costs, most pundits seem to believe the move is inevitable. James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo is one of them:

Liverpool FC News @LivEchoLFC

Here's @JamesPearceEcho on the Coutinho situation at #LFC - and why the long goodbye has already started... https://t.co/qSuy1pvMor

It appears to be a question of when, more than if, Coutinho will move to Barcelona. This latest report suggests a scenario in which the Reds wouldn't have to worry about the January transfer window, knowing they'll receive a pretty sum in the summer they can use on his replacement.

Per sportswriter Dean Van Nguyen, it's imperative Liverpool don't lose their star man in January:

Dean Van Nguyen @deanvannguyen

@AnfieldHQ Absolutely not in January. Next summer, it depends on how hard he pushes for a move. I think he'll go hard to get to Barcelona

Coutinho had something of a slow start to the season―a logical consequence of the long transfer saga in the summer―but he's been sensational since finding his stride, playing a key role in the Reds' awesome attack.

His versatile set of skills was on display in the 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League, where he bagged a hat-trick. Just days earlier, he scored once and added two assists in the win over Brighton & Hove Albion.

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (R) leaves the pitch with the match ball up the back of his jersey at the end of the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Liverpool and Spartak Moscow at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west E
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Liverpool have plenty of prolific attacking options outside of the Brazilian, but there's little doubt Coutinho is the creative heart of the team right now. Top conductors of play like that are rare―even with bags of cash, finding a replacement won't be easy.

The Reds refused to let Barcelona push them into a corner during the summer, and a similar approach moving forward is needed. They can't ignore Coutinho's wishes, however―holding your best player against his will sends a bad message to future targets, who may think twice about joining such a team.

There is no such thing as true assurances in football, but a gentlemen's agreement to let him leave if Barcelona satisfy Liverpool's demands isn't out of the question.