Saturday 21 October 2017

Steven Gerrard says Philippe Coutinho must start a 'war' to leave Liverpool for Barcelona to replace Neymar

Jack de Menezes

Steven Gerrard has drawn on his own experiences of seeing Luis Suarez and Javier Mascherano leave Liverpool for Barcelona to admit that it is a “very, very difficult situation” surrounding Philippe Coutinho, and said that the midfielder may have to start a “war” with the club to achieve a summer transfer.

Barcelona are believed to be closing in on 25-year-old Coutinho, with reports in Spain claiming the deal could even be wrapped up by the end of the week. Barca are on the hunt for Neymar’s replacement, with the Brazilian superstar sealing his £200m world record move to Paris Saint-Germain last week, and there are suggestions that a bid of more than £100m could be made to try and force Liverpool into selling their talented attacking midfielder.

Coutinho is understood to favour a move to the Nou Camp, as most players would given the size and reputation of Barcelona, but he so far has remained loyal to the Merseyside club and not publically pushed for an exit with just three weeks remaining until the transfer window closes.

Gerrard, who returned to Liverpool last season to join their academy as under-18s manager, reflected on how other players from South America that moved to Anfield had ambitions of playing for Barcelona because of the prestige that the Spanish club has back in their homelands, and he stressed it could be an equally-tricky battle to keep Coutinho at the club for another season.

“It’s very, very difficult,” Gerrard said following BT Sport's broadcast of the European Super Cup final between Manchester United and Real Madrid on Tuesday night. “Especially South American players who always go on record saying it’s a dream of theirs to play for Barcelona.

“I’ve experienced it before as a player and a fan with [Javier] Mascherano, with [Luis] Suarez and it’s a very, very difficult situation for a club to be in.

“The good thing from the Liverpool fans’ point of view is the manager [Jürgen Klopp] is desperate to keep hold of him and is trying to keep hold of him.

“The board want him to stay, this is not a situation where Liverpool need money or to cash in.

“We’re not a selling club so they’re going to do everything in their power for him to stay but at the end of the day it comes down to Philippe Coutinho and his decision, what he’s prepared to do, what type of war he’s prepared to create to get out because Liverpool won’t make it easy for him.”

Coutinho has featured for Liverpool during their pre-season schedule, but missed the weekend victory over Athletic Bilbao in Dublin after suffering a minor back injury that could keep him out of Liverpool’s Premier League opener this weekend against Watford.

Independent News Service

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