Report: Barcelona ready to pay £142m for Premier League playmaker
What's the story?
Barcelona look all set to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool in the January transfer window itself and are ready to bid as much as £142m to sign him now rather than in the summer.
According to The Times, Liverpool are now resigned to losing their Brazilian star because he, too, wants the move to happen sooner rather than later.
The transfer would make him the club's record signing, breaking the record set just half a season earlier when they had signed Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for a price of £135m (€147m) including add-ons.
The base price for Dembele was an initial £97m. Coutinho's base price would be approximately £100m but the price will definitely go up based on his performances and the number of appearances he makes for the Camp Nou club.
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The 25-year-old has been non-committal about staying at the Anfield club and wants to move to the La Liga club as soon as possible after a summer transfer failed to materialise.
The La Liga club was also on the receiving end of criticism after their official kit manufacturers Nike deployed a web page where one could buy the official Barcelona kit with Coutinho's name on the back.
The heart of the matter
Barcelona had made three bids in the summer with the final bid amounting to £115m but, at the time, Liverpool had flatly rejected any bid claiming no amount of money would see them sell their talisman to the Catalan club.
However, that stance seems to have softened. Club manager Jurgen Klopp is also no longer interested in answering any questions on the transfer.
“I have nothing to say about it. It is a transfer window, but that is all," the German manager said. "I know I opened the door halfway because I mentioned it was the transfer window but there is nothing to say about it which would help me, or the player or the club."
According to Goal, Coutinho has also rejected all offers to convince him to stay - including higher wages for a player who is already on £180,000 per week (the highest-paid player at the club).
Barca boss Ernesto Valverde also remained tight-lipped on the transfer. "We will see if he comes or not," he said. "He is a great player. We respect Liverpool and we respect the player. We don't know what will happen in the future."
Video: The best of Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho's transfer to Barcelona now looks more like a question of 'when' rather than 'if'. The playmaker is currently 'sidelined with an injury' according to Klopp but this was the case even in the summer when he was waiting for a move.
Behind the scenes, it does look like they can no longer convince him to stay and it is all a matter of how much they can get from Barcelona to sign a replacement - preferably in the January transfer window itself.