Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Monday January 21 2013
According to reputable sources this morning, Liverpool FC are close to agreeing a fee for Brazilian attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho...
Liverpool are known to be in the market for a creative player who can bring some additional attacking intent to their midfield and high on their list of targets is seemingly Inter Milan's Philippe Coutinho.
The 20-year-old Brazil international started his career at Vasco da Gama before moving to Italy in 2010. The deal to take Coutinho to the San Siro was agreed two years previous with Inter paying €4m for the then 16-year-old but allowing him to remain in Brazil until he turned 18.
A talented playmaker, who is two-footed and renowned for his dribbling skills, Coutinho has subsequently featured 37 times for the Nerazzurri, scoring five goals, and also enjoyed a successful loan spell at Spanish side Espanyol towards the end of last season.
Reports over the weekend, including those published by the Guardian and Telegraph, suggested Liverpool were close to agreeing an £8m fee to take Coutinho to Anfield and after the story appeared in the well sourced Liverpool ECHO this morning it is highly likely to be true.
The local newspaper believes the Reds had an opening bid of £5m rejected and will shortly return with an improved offer. They also mention that the deal will not affect the club's continued pursuit of Blackpool winger Tom Ince who they previously bid £6m for.
The move for Coutinho follows news that the player's Inter team mate Wesley Sneijder is finally close to agreeing a protracted move to Turkish side Galatasaray. Liverpool were also interested in the 28-year-old but could not agree terms with the Dutchman who earns a reported £180k-a-week at present.
Coutinho is not an automatic first choice for Inter even though the Italian giants have struggled for long periods of the current campaign. As a result he is thought to be keen on the move and the club would also be interested in allowing him to leave for the right fee given their present cost-cutting measures.
Coutinho certainly seems a better fit than Sneijder in terms of the perceived age and cost preferred by Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group. The youngster certainly has ability and is the type of player who can excite fans. At this stage he is still very much a work in progress but talent wise he can become a top player so on paper it seems a very good move by the club. With the recent signing of Daniel Sturridge and the return from injury of Fabio Borini the problematic striking position looks a lot stronger now so it was right to evaluate other areas of the squad that needed improving. Liverpool are not short of midfielders but the likes of Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen can hardly be considered a constant attacking threat and the arrival of Coutinho, alongside Jonjo Shelvey, puts the squad in good shape for the future in this regard.
Likelihood (out of 5):
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Date:Monday January 21 2013
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