• Over two thirds of Sport readers want the Catalans to sign the 25-year-old playmaker.
  • Sport says that on Wednesday [3 January] there will be a key meeting in London which could seal the deal.

Barcelona have been encouraged to step up their pursuit of Philippe Coutinho after a poll conducted by Catalan publication Sport revealed that the Liverpool star is the supporter's number one candidate to bolster the La Liga giants ahead of the second half of the season.

The Brazil ace was tipped to make a big money transfer to the Nou Camp in the summer after manager Ernesto Valverde identified him as the priority signing to strengthen his midfield.

Liverpool blocked his departure but reports in Spain in recent days have claimed that Barcelona will make a new effort to convince the Premier League giants to part ways with the former Inter Milan star during the January window.

And the fans have backed the intentions of Barcelona with 70% of Sport readers picking up Coutinho as their clear favourite target ahead of Palmeiras centre-back Yerri Mina (18%) and Gremio midfielder Arthur (8%).

Meanwhile, Monaco starlet Thomas Lemar and Lyon sensation Fekir only scooped 2% of the vote.

Sport gave Barcelona fans reasons to be optimistic after revealing that Coutinho doesn't want to wear a Liverpool shirt again.

The 25-year-old playmaker missed the 2-1 victory over Burnley on New Year's Day due to an ill-time injury and the Spanish publication understand that he doesn't plan to return to action when Liverpool face Everton in the FA Cup on Friday [5 January]

Sport claims that Coutinho's entourage is confident that the player will complete his long-awaited move to Barcelona in the next few days, meaning his fitness will not be risked at Goodison Park.

The report adds that on Wednesday [3 January] there will be a decisive meeting in London to discuss a deal which could worth up to €150m (£133m).

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga table but Coutinho won't be able to help them in the Champions League having already played for Liverpool in the group stage.

But the Catalans still plan to make the move this month with Valverde admitting on Monday [1 January] that he would welcome reinforcements ahead of the second half of the campaign.

"I have always said that I am happy with the players we have, they're the best. Vermaelen is a good example. It seemed that we were looking for a replacement before seeing him play," Valverde said.

"Regarding the January window obviously we are who we are and we are open to becoming even better. We know that we have to compete in order to be the best. In the same way that other clubs worry about improving their squad so do we to an extent. When that happens, we'll make an announcement."

Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho missed Liverpool's 2-1 victory over Burnley on New Year's Day due to an ill-time injury. Getty