'This is a huge test for the club' - Steven Gerrard piles pressure on Liverpool's owners over Phlippe Coutinho's future
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard believes the club's owners face a huge test of their ambition as they fight to block Philippe Coutinho's dream move to Barcelona.
Courtinho emailed in a transfer request to Liverpool on Friday after the club turned down two mega-money bids to take him to the Nou Camp, with the second offer believed to be close to €100m.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted after Saturday's 3-3 draw at Watford that the final decision over Coutinho's future was out of his hands, yet Gerrard used his appearance as a BT Sport pundit to send a powerful message to the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group.
"This is a huge test for the club from top to bottom to try and be as strong as they can to the end and don't give in," declared Gerrard.
"The problem here are Barcelona, because they will be saying to Coutinho's representatives: 'It's now or never. If he doesn't come now, we're never coming back for him ever again.' So they're piling the pressure on and that's why Philippe's reacted.
"This kid who's come from South America has always had a dream of playing for Barcelona, and he's panicking thinking that if he doesn't do it now it'll never happen again."
Gerrard stated his belief that Liverpool would resist any further attempts by Barcelona to sign Coutinho, as he urged the Brazilian No.10 to show some loyalty to the club that put him on the football map.
"You remember he was struggling at Inter Milan. We gave him the chance, we built this player up. The least he can do is give the club another year," he added.
"I know the kid, I know he's not a bad person, I know he doesn't want to cause a war to come out. But at the end of the day he's just signed a five-year deal, the club have been superb to him and made him the player he is.
"He has just signed a five-year deal, become the highest-paid player at the club, he comes out and says he's really, really happy and then the first time Barcelona come he puts in a transfer request. I think the fans are frustrated and you can understand it.
"I'm not involved. I think Jurgen's got it under control, I think FSG have got it under control, and they're the key. I think he will stay."
Barcelona are expected to return with a third and final offer for Coutinho in the coming days, with the stated intention of Liverpool's owners to hang on to their star man set to be tested once more.
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.