Liverpool will resist a fourth bid from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho and are expected to hold firm until the end of the summer transfer window. Three bids for the Brazil international have been knocked back by the Reds, with the Catalans' interest said to have curtailed, yet the saga is braced for another twist.
The Sun understand the La Liga giants are not put-off by the Merseysiders rejecting a spate of offers and are readying a package worth £136m in order to tempt the Anfield club into allowing their prized asset to leave. Barca are confident that Coutinho wants to move to the Nou Camp and hope the 25-year-old will push through a move.
But Goal.com understand that Liverpool are unfazed by the prospect of another offer from Barcelona, despite the fee in question. Ernesto Valverde's side are willing to pay £100m upfront, with £36m coming in add-ons over the next four years. It is understood these payments will come in £9m bundles every time Barca qualify for the Champions League over the next four seasons, but it won't be enough to make the Premier League side budge.
Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's American owners, stated earlier this month that "no offers will be considered" for Coutinho, who signed a five-year deal last January, and it appears that stance will not change. Jurgen Klopp says the decision over whether to retain Coutinho has been in the hands of the board but that his personal relationship with the player has not been affected by the long-running saga.
"Of course (I would welcome Coutinho back)," Klopp said of the former Inter Milan playmaker, who has not played this season due to a back injury and is out of the Champions League play-off second leg against Hoffenheim through illness, according to the Liverpool Echo. "You asked is everything okay between us? I answered with of course. Yes, indeed, absolutely, 100%. If [Coutinho] would start [training] tomorrow it would take time because he has no training for a long time. [I have] no idea in this moment. We would have to check in the moment when he is back."
The timeline regarding Coutinho's reintegration back into the Liverpool first team is uncertain, though the rejection of a fourth bid all-but signals the end of Barcelona's pursuit. The player is seeking to hold clear-the-air talks with the club following the turbulent summer but whether it comes in time for him to be involved against Arsenal this weekend [27 August] remains to be seen.
While the news should finally draw a line under speculation regarding Coutinho's future at Liverpool, it represents another setback for Barcelona in their attempts to reinvest the money recouped from the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Valverde's side have made just one signing in the form of Paulinho since Coutinho's Brazilian teammate moved to the French capital for €222m, while pursuits of alternative targets have also stalled.