Liverpool have opened talks with talismanic forward Philippe Coutinho over a new long-term contract. The Brazilian, who has been linked with a move to Barcelona, has been in sparkling form this season and Jurgen Klopp's men are eager to reward him with a new deal.

Coutinho played a huge part in helping Liverpool emerge as title contenders during the first half of the campaign but has only just returned to the fold after being sidelined for around two months with ankle ligament damage. Negotiations between the two parties are ongoing with The Liverpool Echo reporting that the Reds have no interest in including a buy-out clause in the proposed new deal.

The former Inter Milan starlet, whose current contract at Anfield lasts until 2020, has long been linked with Barcelona. While Klopp sought to diffuse any speculation linking his star man with a switch to the Camp Nou earlier this month, Barca legend Rivaldo believes a transfer "might happen".

"In my opinion, he's a great player and a player who knows Neymar well. I think they are both friends – players who stand out," Rivaldo told Sky Sports. "I think that this transfer might happen because Barcelona is always going to attract the best, isn't it?

Philippe Coutinho and Jurgen Klopp
Coutinho emerged as one of the stars of the Premier League during the first half of the season Getty Images

"He is one of the players who stands out and I believe that this transfer - if he goes to Barcelona - would be a good thing for Barcelona for sure. He is a player who would definitely help Barcelona. Of course, Barcelona is a big club, but with a player like him, it would definitely be a big help."

Coutinho has scored five goals and provided five assists for Liverpool in the league this season. He made his first start since 26 November in his side's FA Cup third-round replay victory over Plymouth Argyle last week and will be hoping to return to his scintillating best when Klopp's side face Southampton in the second-leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.