Presumably unaware of the fact they've just signed Virgil Van Dijk months after offering a public apology to Southampton for making an illegal approach for the defender, Liverpool fans are all in a tizzy toward Barcelona and their handling of an approach to signing Phillippe Coutinho. Their latest crime is to have informed a #ContentCreator at Nike that the deal was done before telling, er, Coutinho or Liverpool.
Having resisted Barca's overtures in the summer while Coutinho moaned about a bad back, Liverpool have reaped the rewards of their holding firm along with their star player's admirable attitude: he has been the best player for a side that qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League during an unbeaten run of 16 matches. In spite of Catalan reports to the contrary, Barca's largest bid arrived at the end of the window and came to £82 million, rising to £118 million with a bunch of unrealistic add-ons.
In spite of that, it looks inevitable that Coutinho will leave Anfield, with reliable reports from close to the club today stating that Liverpool's stance has changed from won't-sell-at-any-price to will-sell-at-a-certain-price.
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo and Melissa Reddy of Goal.com are both well-connected at Liverpool, and both state that Liverpool are now open to selling their best player. Coutinho has been offered more money at Liverpool but would still prefer a move to Barca, and now Liverpool have seemingly set their price: around €150 million.
Barcelona, however, have yet to submit a concrete offer for the Brazilian, although it looks inevitable that they will do so.
The issue for Liverpool then turns to when they do the deal: now, or in the summer?
Allowing Coutinho to join Barca at the end of the present season looks to be the most likely scenario, with this line from Reddy's piece instructive:
If Barca finally submit a strong proposal to the Reds, there is the possibility of concluding a deal in the winter, which allows Coutinho to seal a switch ahead of 2018-19.
That would not weaken the second half of Liverpool’s campaign as they look to push on in the Champions League and secure a top-four finish domestically.
Coutinho almost certainly won't be at Liverpool at the start of next season, but he may yet finish out the present campaign with a pre-contract agreement with Barca. Which would be all the more interesting if the sides end up playing against each other in the Champions League...