Steven Gerrard has told BT Sport that Philippe Coutinho will have to create “war” if he is to leave Liverpool for Barcelona.
ESPN Deportes’ Jordi Blanco reported on Tuesday that Barcelona believe they have reached a deal with Liverpool to buy Coutinho for an initial €90 million (£81.6m), while sources close to the player have told ESPN Brazil that the Brazil international has informed his club that he wants the move.
However, sources had told ESPN FC earlier in the day that Liverpool remained determined to hold on to him, and club legend Gerrard — now working as academy coach at Anfield — said it would be up to the player to force a move.
“The good thing from the Liverpool fans’ point of view is the manager is desperate to keep hold of him and is trying everything to keep hold of him,” he said in his role as a BT Sport pundit after the UEFA Super Cup.
“The owners 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 gonna 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 and 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.”
Gerrard saw former Liverpool teammates Javier Mascherano and Luis Suarez move to Barcelona against the club’s wishes during his time as a player and accepts it is an attractive move for Coutinho.
“It’s very, very difficult,” he said. “Especially South American players who always go on record and say it’s a dream of theirs to play for Barcelona.
“I’ve experienced it before as a player and as a fan with Mascherano, with Suarez, and it’s a very, very difficult, tricky situation for a club to be in.”
Asked if he thought Coutinho would be playing for Liverpool or Barcelona after Aug. 31, Gerrard replied: “I pray it’s Liverpool.”