Liverpool open contract talks to ward off interest in Barcelona target

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Liverpool are set to offer Philippe Coutinho a new contract in the hope that it will persuade the Brazilian to reject the overtures of Barcelona.

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A standout performer for Jurgen Klopp’s men throughout their impressive start to the Premier League season, former Inter midfielder Coutinho has attracted attention from the La Liga champions as they seek to find a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta.

Speculation has intensified in recent weeks that the Blaugrana will lodge a formal offer for the talented 24-year-old over the summer, and Liverpool have responded by readying a lucrative new deal in an attempt to keep their star man at Anfield.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds are keen to reward Coutinho for his outstanding performances for Klopp’s free-scoring side, and will offer vastly improved terms in the hope of getting the extension across the line before suitors such as Barca firm up their interest.

Although contracted until 2020, any potential renewal on Coutinho’s part would have to be seen as a sign that the Anfield club mean business with regards to keeping their prized asset. Already rated in excess of £50 million, the diminutive Brazilian would at the very least command a hefty fee if he were to actively pursue a move away from Merseyside.

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However, it is understood that no buy-out clause will be included as part of the package, with Liverpool instead focused on tying down the future of arguably their key creative midfielder.

As yet, no indication has been given by Coutinho that he is willing to swap Anfield for the Camp Nou. Indeed, in an interview with the Echo back in 2016, he went further by admitting to feeling at home in Liverpool.

“Liverpool feels like my home,” he said. “I feel happy, settled and comfortable here with the city and the people.”

Currently working his way back to full fitness as part of his return to the side following a troublesome ankle injury, Coutinho has mustered five goals and as many assists in 13 Premier League stars for Liverpool so far this season.

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