Coutinho to Barca? Three reasons why Liverpool need to stand firm

Philippe Coutinho’s future at Liverpool has been cast into doubt as Barcelona are ready to splash the cash on the Brazilian. The La Liga giants have already had a £72 million bid rejected, but they’ll do whatever they can to bring Coutinho to Barca this summer.

An improved £80 million bid is being lined up, according to the Daily Mirror, so this could well be a transfer saga that lasts for the remainder of the window.

Barcelona have long been admirers of Coutinho. Many feel he is the perfect man to replace Andres Iniesta at the Nou Camp. But it’s Neymar’s potential world-record move to PSG that has accelerated the chase for the Liverpool playmaker.

Paris Saint-Germain are seemingly set to trigger Neymar’s £196m release clause, shattering the transfer record by £107m. That would leave Barcelona with a big void to fill in their squad, but a lot of money to fill it with.

But no matter what, Liverpool won’t want to lose their star attacker. Here are three reasons Liverpool need to hold on to Coutinho this summer:

1. ‘Not a selling club’

The club have insisted they are “not a selling club” and won’t be forced to sell. Jurgen Klopp made that very clear after news of the initial bid surfaced. He spoke directly to Coutinho about the issue during the team’s preseason tour at the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong, and he believes the Reds have no reason to part ways with the Brazilian.

It’s now crucial for Liverpool to stand by that statement. Their fans will be concerned with interest from a club as big as Barca. But if Liverpool want to continue improving, as they have made clear, they must stand by their word.

2. A worrying trend following big sales

Liverpool’s three biggest sales in club history are Fernando Torres, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez. All three were sold over the past seven seasons, but the Reds have tended to struggle after losing key men.

In Torres’s final season at Anfield, Liverpool finished 6th. The following season, they finish 8th. In Luis Suarez’s final season at the club, Liverpool hand one hand on the 2013/14 Premier League title before a late collapse saw them finish runners-up. After he left for Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Liverpool went on to finish 6th. That was in Raheem Sterling’s final season. Then, after he departed for Man City Liverpool ended up finishing 8th in the first season without him.

The trend is that Liverpool have worse seasons after losing star players. Yes, that will be the case for most clubs. Yes, it’s difficult to build once a star man has left. But some clubs cope, Liverpool have so far proven they cannot. Losing Coutinho to Barca would be potentially disastrous for what Klopp is building.

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3. Irreplaceable

The reason the Coutinho to Barca rumours have picked up so much pace is because there are arguably very few, if any suitable replacements for Neymar at the Nou Camp. Coutinho is excellent on the ball. He is highly versatile. He has the ability to beat a man with ease. And he is as good at finding the back of the net as he is a teammate. Barcelona know that he would be well suited to replacing the goals and assists Neymar provides.

So if Liverpool were to sell, there is no obvious answer as to who they’d bring in as his replacement. Yes, they’d have a big stack of cash to spend. But given the inflated prices during the current transfer window, Liverpool would likely have to settle for someone a lot less talented that Coutinho if they needed to replace him.

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How Liverpool could benefit from Barcelona swap deal if Coutinho leaves this summer

Barcelona are not giving up hope of luring Liverpool’s star playmaker Philippe Coutinho to the Nou Camp this summer, despite the fact the 24-year-old Brazilian penned a new five-year contract in January.

Coutinho became the Reds’ highest-paid player just a couple of months ago but it has done little to stop Barca from pursuing his signature as they look to strengthen this summer.

The Liverpool star is seen as an ideal replacement for Iniesta, who is approaching the end of his career and has yet to sign a new deal with the Catalan giants.

Don’t miss: Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

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Liverpool fans won’t want to imagine life without Coutinho at Anfield. His creativity is a huge asset to the side as he can operate behind the striker or out on the left wing, thriving in both roles under Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds will need even more depth next season as they prepare for life back in Europe – whether that be the Champions League or Europa League – so losing Coutinho is a scenario Klopp will be trying not to think about.

But if the player wants to link up with former Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez, Brazilian pal Neymar and Lionel Messi it will be difficult to keep him. But there is still a way Liverpool could benefit from the loss of their No.10 as Barca could allow their own 24-year-old Brazilian playmaker to depart in the coming months.

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Rafinha is reportedly being chased by Arsenal, Juventus and most interestingly Liverpool as he has been unable to nail down a guaranteed starting place with Barca. He has played 27 times in all competitions this season but has only started 17 of those matches and his chances of bettering that tally would be significantly hampered if Coutinho were to join the club this summer.

Barca would be willing to let Rafinha leave if the right offer came in, just as they did with his brother Thiago Alcantara who joined Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich in 2013. Liverpool would surely move to the front of the queue for Rafinha if the two clubs were already in discussions regarding Coutinho.

16/17 League Stats
Appearances
Goals
Assists
Chances Created Per 90 Mins
Pass Accuracy
Coutinho
22
6
5
2.67
83%
Rafinha
17
6
2
1.18
92%

Both Rafinha and Coutinho have scored six league goals this season, with the Liverpool ace picking up three more assists. Although he has played five more games and has racked up 523 more minutes than the Barca man.

Coutinho creates more chances for his teammates per 90 minutes than Rafinha, although his passing accuracy isn’t as good, with the Barca academy product only misplacing 39 passes in La Liga all season.

Losing Coutinho would undoubtedly worry Reds fans but if they can negotiate a swap deal with Barcelona for Rafinha they could still be in a position to challenge at the top end of the Premier League next season. They would also be able to free up some space on the wage bill to pursue other targets as they prepare for a busier schedule in the 2017/18 campaign.

Would Rafinha be a good replacement for Coutinho at Liverpool if Barcelona come in for the Reds star this summer?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Southampton vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Southampton FC vs. Liverpool FC

Venue: St Mary’s Stadium – Saturday, November 19 – 15:00 GMT (10:00 ET)

Match Odds: Southampton 23/10 – Draw 13/5 – Liverpool 11/10

Match Preview

Southampton welcome Liverpool to St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon in what should be an action-packed game of Premier League football as the Reds look to remain top of the table.

Southampton have lost two-straight league games and will be hoping for a change of fortunes following the international break.

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But they know they’re up against it here, with the Premier League leaders coming to town in excellent form. The Saints haven’t kept a clean sheet in four and that will undoubtedly be a huge worry for Claude Puel.

Liverpool have been so impressive to this point, scoring 30 goals in 11 games, with Jurgen Klopp’s intensity blowing teams away more often than not.

The Reds have won four of their six away games so far and will be confident of getting a result at St Mary’s on Saturday, considering they’ve won three of their last four trips there.

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Team News

Southampton have a long injury list with no less than seven first-team players ruled out and doubts hanging over Fraser Forster, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Jeremy Pied, Shane Long, Matt Targett, Harrison Reed, Jake Hesketh, Alex McCarthy and Florin Gardos are all definitely out.

Liverpool are sweating over the fitness of Philippe Coutinho, who is struggling with a bit of a knock to his ankle. Danny Ings, Sheyi Ojo, Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho are all definitely ruled out. Daniel Sturridge will be hoping to start up top.

Key Points

Southampton’s last five: D/W/D/L/L

Liverpool’s last five: W/D/W/W/W

Key Stat: Liverpool have scored 40 goals in their 14 competitive games so far this season, which is their best tally after 14 games since 1895.

Key Player: Philippe Coutinho – The Brazilian playmaker has been in sensational form so far this season and has scored in three of his last four trips to St Mary’s Stadium. Expect him to be at the heart of everything Liverpool do going forward on Saturday.

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Score Prediction

Southampton 1-3 Liverpool – There should be goals here between two of the league’s most attacking sides. Liverpool, however, look far too good at the moment and are deservedly top of the table. They will be looking for a fourth-straight Premier League win on Saturday and the Saints don’t look in a position to stop them.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Leicester City

Venue: Anfield – Saturday, September 10 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 8/13 – Draw 3/1 – Leicester 17/4

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome reigning Premier League champions Leicester City to Anfield on Saturday evening in a tie that has the makings of one not to miss. 

Jurgen Klopp will be expecting more from his side than they have already shown this season. They’re sitting 11th on four points.

Liverpool come into this one having picked up a point in their 1-1 draw with Spurs, a game they looked like they could have gone on to win, but a solid result nonetheless.

This will be test for Liverpool but they will fancy their chances, they are unbeaten in their last eight home games and have a strong record against Leicester at Anfield.

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Leicester have had a solid start to their title defence but unsurprisingly look a little off the pace compared to the big-spenders in the transfer window.

Claudio Ranieri’s side come into this one having picked up a convincing win over Swansea at home and will want to get on a run of form now.

Leicester’s response to losing their opener has been impressive and they have looked more like the side that won the league in their last two games.

This is going to be a tough season for Leicester but they know what they’re capable of and will not be fearing travelling to any side.

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Team News

Liverpool are expecting to be without Emre Can, Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho for this tie.

Leicester City have just two injury concerns ahead of this tie as Jeffrey Schlupp and Nampalys Mendy are both expected to remain out.

Key Points

Liverpool’s form: W/L/D

Leicester City’s form: L/D/W

Key Stat: Liverpool are unbeaten at home to Leicester in the last five meetings between the sides at Anfield. 

Key Player: Phillippe Coutinho – The Liverpool playmaker will be looking to unlock a solid Leicester defence. As we know, he likes a long-range effort so we can expect to see him take on any opportunity he feels is worth trying.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City – Neither side will make this easy for the other. Liverpool have been impressive at home but being under pressure suits Leicester and they will be looking forward to counter-attacking a defence who have looked vulnerable so far this season.

Is this future Liverpool captain the man to build the team around?

With the season drawing to a close and the imminent departure of Steven Gerrard, Liverpool face a summer of change as they will look to mount another challenge on the top four in the Premier League next season.

With England international Raheem Sterling currently stalling on a new contract, Liverpool have acted quickly to nail down future captain Jordan Henderson to a new five-year deal in what could be their best business this summer as Manchester City were circling.

Henderson has been sensational this season and has arguably been the Reds’ best player. Yet it was Philippe Coutinho who made the PFA Team of the Season. So is the England International undervalued?

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Current vice-captain, Henderson is the expected replacement for the long-serving Gerrard once he leaves for the LA Galaxy in the summer, having been an ever-present figure in Brendan Rodgers’ side this term.

Henderson has made huge steps this season towards being the midfield player that Liverpool need and signing him to a new contract and fighting off interest from other clubs is paramount to Liverpool’s project.

So compared to the other marquee midfielders in the side, how does Henderson fair?

Sterling Coutinho Henderson
Appearances 33 32 34
Goals 7 5 6
Assists 7 5 8

Should Sterling decide not to agree a new deal by the end of the summer, it’s a huge possibility that Liverpool will want to cash in on him while they can.

They will need to bring in reinforcements regardless of Sterling’s situation but Jordan Henderson is arguably the man to build a team around if the Reds are to remain a force at the top end of the Premier League.

Who is a greater asset for Liverpool – Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho or Jordan Henderson?

Manchester City plotting £100m Liverpool raid – report

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will want the summer to be over before it has even arrived as Premier League rivals Manchester City are plotting an enormous £100 million raid for three Reds stars.

Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson have both been reported as City targets already, but Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho is now also high up on the reigning champions’ transfer wishlist, according to the Daily Star.

Coutinho scored the goal to send Liverpool through to the FA Cup semi-finals in Wednesday night’s 1-0 win at Blackburn, and City feel they could sign him for £20 million this summer.

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The Reds would want nearer £35 million for the 22-year-old midfielder, but wouldn’t want to sell to City at any price if it could be avoided.

Sterling is being linked with almost every big club in Europe as his contract dilemma continues to roll on but the Reds have slapped a £50 million price tag on his head if they are to allow him to leave Anfield.

City are looking to bring in English players to fill their homegrown quota this summer as they look set for a hectic transfer window.

Frank Lampard and James Milner are heading out the exit door, meaning at least two more homegrown players will be needed and City are keen on both Sterling and Henderson.

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Henderson is expected to replace MLS-bound Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain but with interest from Chelsea and City, he could be tough to keep for Rodgers.

The Reds will demand in excess of £30 million for the England midfield star who has just one year left on his current deal.

It is extremely unlikely that City will sign all three Liverpool players this summer, though they will likely prepare bids for them in the hope that they can bring at least one of them to the Etihad in time for the start of the next campaign.

Will Manchester City sign any of their Liverpool targets this summer? Who should be their priority?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Arsenal vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Venue: Emirates Stadium – Saturday, April 4 – 12:45 BST (07:45 EDT)

Match Odds: Arsenal 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – Liverpool 100/30

Match Preview

Arsenal and Liverpool clash at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime in the Premier League‘s stand-out fixture of the weekend.

These two sides have been the best Premier League teams in 2015 so far and this game represents another huge moment in the race for Champions League qualification, with Liverpool five points adrift of fourth and six points behind third-placed Arsenal.

Defeat for Liverpool in this game will leave them desperately playing catch-up and they arguably need to go all out for the win to stand any chance of making the top four.

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Meanwhile, Arsenal can heap the pressure on Manchester City as a win would see them leapfrog City into second, even if only for a few hours.

The Gunners are on an impressive run of six straight wins in the league and have lost just twice in their last 15 games, winning 12 and drawing one.

Liverpool have also been in great form and their 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United last time out was their first Premier League loss in 14 matches after they’d been on a 13-game unbeaten run, consisting of ten wins and three draws.

Arsenal’s main man in recent weeks has been the in-form striker Olivier Giroud – the Frenchman has scored nine goals in his last nine games in all competitions as well as six in his last five Premier League matches.

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Arsene Wenger will certainly be hoping that Giroud and his Arsenal teammates can continue from where they left off following the international break.

Brendan Rodgers will be urging his players to call upon the performance that famously ripped Arsenal apart at Anfield in that 5-1 win back in February 2014.

The reverse fixture between these two sides this season ended as a 2-2 draw in dramatic fashion as a 97th minute header from Martin Skrtel rescued a point for the Reds after goals from Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud had given Arsenal the lead following Philippe Coutinho‘s opener.

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Team News

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) remains out for Arsenal, while Danny Welbeck suffered a knee injury on international duty but could still make the squad. Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby all featured in a friendly against Brentford on Tuesday but it is unlikely any of them will play due to lack of match sharpness. Tomas Rosicky could also return to the squad following illness.

Liverpool will be without skipper Steven Gerrard as he begins a three-match ban following his red card against Manchester United. Martin Skrtel is also unavailable after he was suspended retrospectively for a stamp on David De Gea. Jon Flanagan remains out with injury, while Adam Lallana (groin), Dejan Lovren (abdominal) and Daniel Sturridge (groin) are all trying to recover and could be doubtful. Youngster Jordan Ibe is also out injured.

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Key Points

Arsenal’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/W/W/W

Liverpool’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Arsenal have only lost one out of their last 14 games at home to Liverpool in the Premier League (W7, D6).

Key Player: Aaron Ramsey – The Welshman is starting to show glimpses of the incredible performances we saw last season and his goals from midfield between now and the end of the season will be crucial – his battle with Jordan Henderson will be one to watch.

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Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool – Arsenal are on a great run of form and Liverpool are missing a few key players. This will be a tight but very entertaining game and the Gunners should just edge it with the home advantage.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs Manchester City

Venue: Anfield – Sunday, March 1st – 12:00 GMT (07:00 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 15/8 – Draw 5/2 – Man City 11/8

Match Preview

Liverpool and Manchester City clash at Anfield on Sunday lunchtime in what is undoubtedly one of the biggest games of the Premier League season so far.

Liverpool come in to this game as the form side in the Premier League and they have managed to propel themselves to within just two points of the all important top-four places as they continue their fight to qualify for Champions league football.

Man City are desperate for points as they look to close the gap on league leaders Chelsea in an attempt to retain their Premier League title. A win for City would leave them just two points off the top with Chelsea in League Cup final action against Tottenham this weekend.

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Brendan Rodgers saw his Liverpool side suffer defeat over the course of 90 minutes for the first time in 18 games in all competitions when they lost 1-0 to Turkish side Besiktas before being knocked out on penalties in their Europa League last-32 second-leg tie in Istanbul on Thursday night.

However, the Reds are on a 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League (W7, D3), they’re the only team that haven’t lost in 2015 and they’ve kept five clean sheets in their last six games.

Visitors Manchester City also suffered a midweek defeat as Barcelona beat them 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 knockout round on Tuesday.

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Although Manuel Pellegrini and his players look to have come out the other side of a sticky spell in the Premier League after comprehensive 4-1 and 5-0 wins over Stoke and Newcastle respectively. Before those two victories, City had recorded just one win in six games (D4, L1).

Goals from Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero helped Manchester City beat Liverpool 3-1 in the reverse fixture back in August but memories of Liverpool’s 3-2 win over City at Anfield last year will still be fresh in the mind of both sides.

It’s a crucial fixture for each of these teams and they will both be absolutely desperate to pick up all three points, which could make for a potential Premier League classic.

Team News

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is expected to return to the starting line-up after being rested against Besiktas. Glen Johnson (illness), Mamadou Sakho (injury) and Lazar Markovic (suspension) are all available once again. Jordan Henderson will face a late decision over an ankle injury and skipper Steven Gerrard could return to the squad. Lucas Leiva, Jon Flanagan and Brad Jones are all still out injured.

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Manchester City face no injury or suspension problems, but they will be delighted to welcome Yaya Toure back to the side after he missed the midweek defeat to Barcelona through suspension.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/D/W/W

Manchester City’s last five in the Premier League: L/D/D/W/W

Key Stat: Manchester City haven’t won at Anfield on their last 12 visits. They have also recorded just one win on Merseyside against Liverpool in their previous 26 attempts.

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Key Player: Yaya Toure – It’s hard to look past Toure as the key player. He’s so influential to this City side and it’s no coincidence that they seem to have found their form now he’s returned from the African Cup of Nations.

Score Prediction

Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City – This is a battle of two excellent sides and we can expect an entertaining affair. We should see goals at both ends and a draw seems the most likely result with so much at stake.