If Jurgen Klopp is right, Philippe Coutinho will be lining up for Liverpool when they take on Manchester City on January 14.
The Brazilian playmaker has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, with many reports suggesting a deal could be completed in the coming days, but Klopp refused to discuss Coutinho’s future when he spoke to the media on Thursday.
Coutinho is currently nursing a thigh issue that has ruled him out of Friday’s FA Cup clash against Everton but when asked when the 25-year-old would be available, Klopp replied: “I think he is in a bunch of available players for the City game on January 14.”
The Liverpool boss was aware that any comment he made on Coutinho’s future would be turned into a story and so added: “There is nothing I can say about it which would help me, the player or the club.”
Coutinho has made his desire to leave Anfield clear and it seems a matter of when, not if, he departs.
In an ideal world, the Brazil international would remain at the club until the summer before completing his switch to Spain.
Paul Ince's makes a very good point
But Paul Ince believes Liverpool have enough talent in midfield to ensure Coutinho isn't missed.
“We’ve seen with Salah’s form, (Adam) Lallana is back fit and Mane back to his best that Liverpool will be okay without him,” Ince told Paddy Power, per the Express.
“Of course, Coutinho will be missed because he’s an outstanding player.
“But Klopp’s bought well enough for his side to be alright without him.
“Squad wise Liverpool have enough there to not miss Coutinho.”
Ince: Liverpool should sell now
Coutinho has his heart set on a move to the Camp Nou, and so it’s in Liverpool’s best interests to sell the player now rather than arranging a pre-transfer agreement that would see him leave in the summer.
“I don’t think it would work if Liverpool agreed a deal for Philippe Coutinho to join Barcelona at the end of the season,” Ince added.
“He’s clearly desperate to go to Barca, and Liverpool have done well to hold onto him this long, to be honest.
“Coutinho is very fortunate that he’s playing in front of a very knowledgeable Anfield crowd at the moment, and they haven’t turned on him because they obviously want him to stay.
“But if you were to agree for him to go in the summer, that relationship could become completely different.”
The former Manchester United midfielder added: “It would be very hard, especially as Coutinho’s heart has been set on this move for so long, to play for Liverpool for the next five months.
“You don’t know what’s going through a player’s mind when they know they’re off somewhere else - how could he be totally focussed on Liverpool knowing he’s going to Barca?
“As soon as I knew I was going to sign for Inter Milan, all I could think about was housing, family and where are we going to live – all the stuff outside football.
“That will take his concentration off Liverpool and he won’t be the same player he should be. That could get the fans on his back and then he’d end up leaving the club on a bad vibe. So if he’s going to go, he’s got to go now.”
It would hurt to say goodbye to a player of Coutinho’s talent but it may suit Liverpool to sell him as soon as possible, to allow enough time in January to bring in a replacement.
With Coutinho’s fee possibly reaching £150 million, they could take their pick of quality replacements.
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