Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho joined Liverpool last January.

Liverpool are preparing for a bid from Atletico Madrid for Brazilian Philippe Coutinho next summer should the club qualify for the Champions League, according to The Sunday People.

Coutinho has impressed since his move from Inter Milan last January, scoring three goals and making six assists in 17 outings for The Reds.

Shoulder surgery has forced the 21 year old out until October but the injury won't curtail Atletico's interest in acquiring his services next summer should they force their way into the Champions League for next season.

Last season's top scorer Radamel Falcao joined Monaco in the summer but Atletico have one each of their first seven league games of the season to keep pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga, the most recent victory coming in the Madrid-derby on Saturday.

Liverpool themselves are looking for a return to the Champions League after a four year absence and Coutinho is likely to prove crucial to those attempts during the remainder of the campaign.

However, his departure next summer would stall Liverpool's progression under Brendan Rodgers, who guided the Reds to within 12 points of a top four place last term.

Luis Suarez has returned from a 10-match ban to improve Liverpool's chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League but the return of Coutinho can't come soon enough.

Despite dominating for long periods on Suarez's return in the League Cup against Manchester United, Liverpool were devoid of a genuine cutting edge in the notable absence of Coutinho.

Liverpool added eight new players in the summer transfer window to raise expectations that a return to top tier European competition can be realised.

Three successive league wins at the start of the season have been followed by three games without a win, after a draw against Swansea and successive losses to Southampton and United.

Rodgers' side will look to get back to winning ways against managerless Sunderland on Sunday as Suarez makes his first league appearance since April.