Philippe Coutinho might have stayed at Liverpool this summer but will "wave goodbye" to Anfield next year, according to Reds legend John Aldridge.
The Brazilian was involved in one of the summer window's most protracted and turbulent transfer sagas, with Liverpool standing firm and refusing each of the three lucrative offers tabled by Barcelona.
Liverpool firmly deny Blaugrana director Albert Soler's claims that they slapped a €200m (£183.8m, $238.1m) valuation on the disgruntled midfielder in the final hours before the deadline.
Coutinho, who signed a five-year deal in January this year, missed all three of the Reds' opening league matches against Watford, Crystal Palace and Arsenal in addition to the two-legged Champions League play-off clash with Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim due to a combination of back issues and illness.
However, Coutinho was subsequently deemed fit enough to play for Brazil and came off the bench to score for Tite's in-form side during a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Ecuador in Porto Alegre last week.
The 25-year-old submitted a transfer request in a bid to force a move away from Anfield but to no avail and Jurgen Klopp expects him to return to training following the international break and could indeed feature on Saturday, when Liverpool travel to Manchester City in the lunchtime kick-off. Aldridge echoed the German's stance, indicating he believes Coutinho will be back in the first team fold very soon.
"Make no mistake, Coutinho will come back," he wrote in his column in the Liverpool Echo on Tuesday (5 September). "He's a lovely fella, he's a good family man, and Barcelona turned his head. It can happen."
However, Aldridge admitted Barcelona will in all likelihood come calling again next summer and he expects a repeat of the scenario that unfolded when Manchester United managed to hold onto Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008, only to allow him to join Real Madrid the following season.
"The move over there didn't happen for him but I'm sure he'll give us a really good season and wave goodbye next summer, because Barca will come back for him, he's too good to be ignored," Aldridge added.
"He's just got to stay in form for Liverpool, put all this behind him and play with pride in the shirt. I understand why some fans are a bit unsure about him coming back but it'll only take a belter from outside the area, and we'll all be singing his name again."
Aldridge also dismissed the suggestion the Brazilian will not be focussed on playing for Liverpool, insisting Coutinho, who scored 13 Premier League goals in 31 appearances last season, will be determined to have a good season to establish himself as a key player for Brazil ahead of next summer's World Cup.
"Despite what happened, he won't down tools," he added. "The World Cup is coming up and he's a big part of that Brazil side, don't forget. He'll play well, hopefully score 12, 14 goals, bag a load of assists, the fans will applaud him and he'll go to Barca no problem.
"Liverpool are going to get a huge amount to reinvest into the team when he leaves, just like we did with Luis Suarez. Let's just enjoy him while he's here, and let's hope he can kick on even more."