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Philippe Coutinho is considering making a public statement of his discontent at Liverpool in order to force his exit from the English Premier League club.
The Brazil international has attempted to negotiate a move to Barcelona on a conciliatory basis with his current employers, directly asking manager Jurgen Klopp to be allowed to leave on multiple occasions.
When that “amicable approach” failed to convince Liverpool owner Fenway Sports Group to accept the first of a series of €80million-plus offers from the Catalans, Coutinho stopped training and placed a formal transfer request.
According to sources close to the player, Coutinho is now preparing to talk to the press in order to explain his unhappiness with how FSG and Klopp have handled his situation, and to express his desire to be allowed to escape the club.
The tactic is being considered for use if Liverpool reject an expected fourth bid from Barcelona for the attacking midfielder.
“Coutinho is willing to say that Liverpool is making his life miserable and that he wants to leave,” a source familiar with the negotiations told Yahoo Sport. “He has been very patient, but at the end of the day it is his option as a player to leave the club – and he wants to do exactly that.”
Barcelona are expected to increase their offer for Coutinho to a club-record €150m this week, with €110m of that transfer fee guaranteed. Including performance-related payments, the sum matches a price FSG placed on the Brazilian during secret negotiations earlier this month.
Coutinho’s relationship with Klopp is said to have deteriorated to the extent where “he does not like the manager one bit”. The player’s attempts to achieve a mutually beneficial departure have been met with what has been described as “Klopp’s repeated push for a frontal war”.
The German is said to have sought to make an example of Coutinho, deliberately frustrating the player’s effort to move before either Liverpool or Barca’s domestic campaigns had started in order to send a message to the rest of the Anfield squad. “He has been trying to play the hard man,” said a source.
Having observed the dynamic between Klopp and Coutinho in training before the 25-year-old declared himself unavailable with what the club officially described as “a sore back”, some of the Brazilian’s team-mates have come to the conclusion that his exit in the current transfer window is inevitable.
Coutinho last played football in a Liverpool shirt on August 1st and has been omitted from the squad for both of Liverpool’s opening Premier League fixtures plus their two critical Champions League play-off meetings with Hoffenheim. “He can’t start [against the Bundesliga club] because on top of that he’s now ill,” said Klopp yesterday. “It will take time because he has not trained for a long time. I’ve no idea at this moment [when he will return] we would have to check when he is back.”
Asked if he would welcome Coutinho back into his squad with open arms, Klopp added: “Yes, of course. Absolutely. One hundred per cent.
“’Why,’ you ask, ‘if everything is okay between me and him?’ That was the question, right? And I answered with ‘Of course’. Or yes. Indeed. Absolutely. One hundred per cent.”
Liverpool entered the summer transfer window promising record investment in a squad that again struggled with Klopp’s unconventional training methods last season, barely managing to secure their Champions League play-off berth despite being unencumbered by European football.
Despite the club allowing itself to be associated with moves for the likes of Kylian Mbappe, just three signings – all on a considerably lower scale – have been completed to date: those of Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke. RB Leipzig have rejected a series of bids for midfielder Naby Keita, while Liverpool were forced to publicly apologise to Southampton over their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk.
Twelve days ago FSG issued a statement on the club website categorically ruling out Coutinho’s sale; a move which provoked the player to email his transfer request a few hours later.
“We wish to offer clarity as regards our position on a possible transfer of Philippe Coutinho,” read the statement. “The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes.”
Those American owners can now expect to be placed under further pressure to sell Liverpool’s most talented footballer to Barcelona for the second time in three years, while finding a way of appeasing the club’s supporters over this summer’s transfer activity. In the opinion of a source familiar with FSG’s modus operandi, the combination of Coutinho criticising the club and a more lucrative financial offer from Barcelona could secure the move.
“They will sell, but it needs to be worth the PR damage,” said the source. “They need an out to explain to their fans both from a financial side and Coutinho needs to give them an out too. The player has to burn his bridges. If he does that and the Liverpool press pack start writing that it would be a good idea to sell, FSG will do it.”