Liverpool will be without Philippe Coutinho for their FA Cup tie with Everton as they await Barcelona’s fresh move for the player.
Coutinho has a thigh injury ruling him out of the third round game, although it has not gone unnoticed he is yet to play for his club this season while the transfer window is open.
The Brazilian wants to move to the Nou Camp in the next few weeks. His immediate future now rests with the size of the bid that materialises. Liverpool made their position clear when rejecting £115 million last summer and in the current market he is worth at least 150 million euros.
It is suggested Barcelona are preparing their offer. Unlike last summer Liverpool have not offered any assurance publicly or privately they player will be retained, although as yet there is no decision to make. It remains to be seen whether Barcelona’s valuation of the player is realistic.
In the meantime, Coutinho won’t play in the Merseyside derby, although – as was the case in August – his club is adamant that is solely due to an injury issue.
The 25-year-old sat out Monday’s win over Burnley and the same knock means he will not be in the squad on Friday. The injury has been described as minor.
How would Liverpool adapt to life without Philippe Coutinho?
All options are on the table with Coutinho but what is absolutely clear is the final decision is Jurgen Klopp’s.
There is not the slightest possibility owners Fenway Sports Group would sanction the sale of Coutinho without taking instruction from their manager. That was the situation in the summer and nothing has changed.
While Liverpool’s position on Coutinho's short-term future has certainly shifted, that is in deference to the mood of the manager. Klopp has been building a team which does not depend on one player, and while he would prefer to have no decision to make, equally his ‘team first’ ethos means his patience can wear thin with players who do not want to be part of Liverpool’s future.
That does not mean Klopp will let Coutinho go easily – or certainly not without receiving a fee reflective of his value – but it does explain why he has softened his position in the last few months.
There are those who feel it makes more sense for Liverpool to agree a fee now and keep the player for the rest of the season. Since no negotiations are yet taking place, it is impossible to establish at this stage if either Coutinho or Barcelona would be willing to discuss that possibility. Only if and when they make a bid can such scenarios be considered.