West Ham United midfielder Michail Antonio has backed Philippe Coutinho over his decision to force an exit from Liverpool.

The Brazil international is wanted by Barcelona as they are looking to bring in the Reds star and Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele. The Catalan club's general manager Pep Segura has already confirmed his side's interest in signing the duo in the summer transfer window..

Barcelona lost their star player Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this summer with the former Santos star sealing a switch to Parc des Princes for a world-record fee of €222m (£200m, $262m).

Ernesto Valverde has identified Coutinho and Dembele as the transfer targets as he looks to further strengthen Barcelona's squad in his first transfer window at Camp Nou. The former Inter Milan player has handed in a transfer request as he dreams of completing a move to Barcelona.

"Can you give someone a bad name for wanting to be ambitious? For wanting to move onto bigger things?" Antonio told talkSPORT.

"That person is ambitious, that person wants to do stuff, that person wants to move on with his life. In a normal job, if there was a chance for you to get promoted, are you going to go: no, no, no – I want to stay in the exact same spot I'm in now.

"Or, are you going to strive and move forward and be better? There are ways and means of doing it. But if that opportunity is there and you've done what you needed to do and have been the perfect servant to the club, and the club tells you 'no, stay there.' There's only one option for you.

"Say in Coutinho's spot, he handed in a transfer request. He did every single thing he possibly could do. He stayed, he trained, he worked hard – he stayed away from it – and Liverpool say 'no we're keeping him.'

"And then he handed in a transfer request because he had no other option. But he's been the perfect servant for them for the past three or four years.

"His opportunity has arisen to take that massive step and the club are going to keep you where you are. He had no other option to do what he did."

Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho has handed in a transfer request at Liverpool Getty