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Liverpool Transfer News: Philippe Coutinho Reportedly Believes He'll Leave Club

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2018

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho reportedly believes he is close to the exit at Liverpool and a move to La Liga giants Barcelona, per Paul Joyce of The Times.

The article noted how "Liverpool's public refusal to recommit to their stance of the summer when the player was not for sale at any price has raised Coutinho's hopes he can finally make a move to the Camp Nou."

However, Joyce also pointed out "it will take an offer in the region of €150 million (about £133 million) from Barcelona if the Anfield club is to consider letting him leave this month."

Such a fee may deter Barca from making a move during the winter transfer window, despite Coutinho preferring the deal takes place in January, per the Guardian's Andy Hunter.

Coutinho would reportedly prefer to move to Barca in January.
Coutinho would reportedly prefer to move to Barca in January.Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

As Hunter noted, the Blaugrana bid three times during the summer but have yet to make a fourth offer. The situation leaves the Brazil international in a state of limbo, even though his form remains impressive, as he's scored 12 goals and provided eight assists.

Form like this means Liverpool should continue playing hardball over letting Coutinho go, particularly during the season. The 25-year-old remains the creative hub of manager Jurgen Klopp's team, a squad fighting for a top-four finish in the Premier League and set to compete in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.

A winter sale only makes sense after Liverpool invested £75 million to sign centre-back Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, per the Press Association (h/t the Guardian). It's a global-record fee for a defender and the second big outlay the Merseyside club has made since the season started, following the £48 million deal to sign RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita this summer.

Keita's eventual arrival would offset losing Coutinho, if the latter is sold in the summer.
Keita's eventual arrival would offset losing Coutinho, if the latter is sold in the summer.RONNY HARTMANN/Getty Images

Fetching the kind of fee they are demanding for Coutinho would naturally help the Reds recoup what they have spent. Yet letting him go now would stress Klopp's options in attack.

Liverpool boast a dynamic forward line of wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, as well as striker Roberto Firmino. Their pace and movement is underpinned by Coutinho's flair and vision.

Replacing those qualities wouldn't be easy, even though Klopp's squad has other creative playmakers, such as Adam Lallana. The England international made his first start of the season after injury in the 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year's Day, with WhoScored.com detailing how much he impressed:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Burnley 1-2 Liverpool FT: Adam Lallana created 5 goalscoring chances on his first Premier League start of the season https://t.co/ICcvWju1kL #BURLIV

Lallana gives Liverpool an obvious Coutinho alternative, but he is not as talented as the gifted No. 10, who missed the game against the Clarets with a thigh problem, not because of transfer speculation, per Rory O'Callaghan of Sky Sports.

The Anfield club are wise to hold firm until Barca make another bid.

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