Former Liverpool midfielder Jason McAteer believes that a deal may already have been done for Philippe Coutinho to join Barcelona in next summer’s transfer window.
Coutinho was the subject of strong interest from Barcelona last summer, with the Spanish club having an offer of £118 million rejected for the 25-year-old, but the move failed to materialise.
McAteer believes that it is inevitable that Coutinho will end up at the Nou Camp, especially as Barcelona look for a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta.
McAteer told beIN Sports (via the Liverpool Echo): “To be completely honest, I think Coutinho will go in the summer.
“I think it was another Luis Suarez situation: ‘Just give me one more season’. Coutinho may have worried whether Barcelona would come back in for him but he was never a Neymar replacement.
“Coutinho is a (Andres) Iniesta replacement. That’s what it’s for.
“Iniesta may have signed for life but he’s not going to play consistently next season or the season after. He’s on his way down.
“I feel that Coutinho was always his replacement and they will come back for him in the summer. I’ve got no doubt about it. I think the deal may have possibly already been done.”
Although Liverpool have several other impressive creative and attacking players, losing Coutinho would still represent a significant setback for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
So far this season Coutinho has scored twice and created 15 chances in the Premier League, while the midfielder has retained possession very well, completing 85 per cent of his attempted passes.
Liverpool, who are in ninth place in the Premier League, host Huddersfield Town tomorrow afternoon as they look to bounce back from the 4-1 defeat they suffered against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.