Barcelona's sporting director to watch Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho against Villarreal

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Philippe Coutinho has enjoyed yet another fine season at Liverpool and was rewarded for his efforts with a nomination for PFA Young Player of the Year, awarded to Tottenham's Dele Alli on Monday night.

The 23-year-old Brazilian has scored eight goals in the Premier League thus far, assisting a further five, and thrived under the tutelage of manager Jurgen Klopp.

Alongside the likes of Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho has helped to form a lethal attacking quartet on Merseyside which has torn apart a number of England's elite this season.


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The attacking midfielder played his part in a 3-1 demolition away to Chelsea in October, scoring twice, and helped terrorise Manchester City's defence two weeks later at the Etihad in another convincing victory, this time 4-1.

What's certain is Coutinho thrives on the big occasion, and it seems Barcelona want to see it with their own eyes.

The club's sporting director, Robert Fernandez, will attend Liverpool's Europa League semi-final first leg clash with Villarreal on Thursday night to watch the Brazilian magician in action.

This is according to Spanish outlet Sport, per the Mirror, with Barcelona long-term admirers of Coutinho following his rise to stardom at Anfield.

The report also suggests Fernandez will be keeping an eye on Villarreal's Eric Bailly, a 22-year-old centre-back, and Denis Suarez, who is subject to a return to the Camp Nou this summer when the La Liga giants activate his €3 million buy-back clause.

Where Liverpool are concerned, they'll be hoping Coutinho can deliver another emphatic performance to help steer them into the Europa League final.

Klopp's men pulled off a remarkable comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals, recovering a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 thanks to goals from Divock Origi, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Coutinho himself.

And such is the impact their young Brazilian has made this season that he was also named in France Football's best under-23 team in Europe.

In a star-studded line-up, Coutinho features in midfield alongside Juventus' Paul Pogba and Marco Verratti of Paris Saint-Germain.

Three other Premier League players were also included, with Harry Kane, Hector Bellerin and Anthony Martial all selected following excellent respective seasons in England's top-flight.

Elsewhere, a separate report from Sport suggests Liverpool are interested in signing Barcelona centre-back and former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen this summer.

A £7.5 million bid is the fee in question amidst the Reds' search for defensive reinforcements, especially so after Mamadou Sakho was found guilty of doping.

The Frenchman failed a drug test prior to Liverpool's Europa League clash with Manchester United in mid-March and now faces a lengthy ban from football.

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