Manchester City have reportedly targeted yet another Liverpool star in their bid to overhaul an ageing, under-performing squad this summer, but this time its not Raheem Sterling or Jordan Henderson.
Reds hero Philippe Coutinho is the new top target for City chiefs, who believe they could tempt the Brazilian playmaker to leave Anfield by offering him a massive pay rise at the end of the season.
Coutinho only signed a new £70,000-a-week Liverpool contract that runs until 2020 in February but try telling that to City, with The Mirror reporting they're confident a £35m deal is very much on the cards.
Top four miss could be key
City believe that two factors could persuade Coutinho to turn his back on Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, money and a desire to play Champions League football every single season.
Missing out on the top four, as currently looks very likely, could be devastating for Liverpool in more ways than one. City and others are coming for their top players should the Reds fail to earn a Champions League return, with Coutinho's wonder strike against the Premier League champions earlier this season perhaps persuading them he's a player worth taking even at a premium price.
Rodgers must fight to keep best ever buy
There's a very strong argument to suggest Coutinho is the best signing Rodgers has made in three years at Anfield, arriving from Inter Milan for just £8.5m in January 2013.
Coutinho has always possessed tremendous raw potential, but under the guidance of Rodgers has started matching that to consistent performances this season in particular.
Last night's 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park was a prime example, with Coutinho standing up to be counted as he lashed a late winner into the corner from close range to book the Reds an FA Cup semi-final showdown with Aston Villa.
Much of the recent transfer speculation surrounding Liverpool has been dominated by Sterling and rightfully so, but its equally important they keep Coutinho happy because he's a player that can become a talisman on Merseyside for years to come.
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