Liverpool are closing in on a deal for Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho, after the Serie A outfit asked them to increase their initial offer for the youngster, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The Reds have been linked with the Brazilian for some time now and were understood to have made an £8m bid for him last week. However, the Nerazzurri value the 20-year-old at around €12m [£10m] and have now informed the Merseyside club to reconsider the offer, according to the Daily Mirror.
Coutinho is a pacey and versatile player, who can operate as an attacking midfielder or out wide on the flanks. The report also claims Brendan Rodgers sees the youngster as a future Reds star and has identified him as an alternative to Blackpool's Tom Ince, after negotiations to bring the English prodigy back to Anfield broke down again.
Coutinho, who arrived at San Siro from native outfit Vasco da Gama, has fallen down Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni's pecking order this season, making just four starts in all competitions so far, scoring twice. The player had spent the second half of last season on loan at Spanish side Espanyol and impressed, netting five goals from 16 La Liga appearances.
Liverpool Echo claims the player is all set to become the Reds' second signing of this transfer window, following in the footsteps of England international Daniel Sturridge, as the club are confident that negotiations with Inter will reach a successful conclusion this week.
The report states the arrival of Coutinho would not stop Liverpool from continuing their pursuit of Ince, as the Mirror said. However, the Reds will sign the Blackpool star only if they feel the price is right.
Liverpool stepped up their interest in Coutinho, after their plans of snapping up his Inter team-mate Wesley Sneijder were dashed at the weekend, with the Holland international agreeing a shock move to Turkish champions Galatasaray. The Istanbul side were in talks with Inter for the 28-year-old's services since the transfer window opened.
Rodgers' move for Coutinho goes with his transfer policy of recruiting youngsters with potential resale value and building a strong base for the future.