Liverpool have offered the captain’s armband to Philippe Coutinho in a desperate bid to keep him, it has sensationally been claimed in Spain.
Jordan Henderson was handed the club captaincy when Steven Gerrard retired but Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo say it’s now been proposed to Coutinho.
It’s part of a last-ditch effort to keep him away from Barcelona – as well as a mega-bucks new deal.
Mundo Deportivo claim Liverpool president Tom Werner has offered Coutinho a big pay-rise on his current contract but the midfielder has rejected it.
Coutinho now hopes he has played his last game for Liverpool as he aims to force through a move to Barcelona this month.
But the Spanish club will have to offer about £133million for the Reds to consider letting one of their top stars leave Anfield.
It is now up to Barcelona to confirm the seriousness of their interest with a new bid.
Coutinho is a doubt for Friday’s FA Cup third-round clash with Everton after sitting out their New Year’s Day win at Burnley with what manager Jurgen Klopp says is a thigh injury. Liverpool’s summer stance that Coutinho was not for sale at any price appears to have significantly softened in recent weeks and that is why the player believes he may get his move.
Both the club and Klopp have stopped short of saying he will definitely be at Anfield when the window closes.
That is in contrast to their approach in the summer when Fenway Sports Group, the club’s owners, made it clear he would not be sold at any price even after he handed in a transfer request.
Although Liverpool have not named a price, it is understood that for negotiations to start it would have to be in excess of the £118m Barca bid that was rejected in the summer. Reports in Spain suggest they are ready to make a bid of about £133m but the Reds have yet to receive a new offer.
Barcelona have not stopped some of their star players talking about Coutinho while their kit manufacturers Nike made a blunder by posting online adverts for shirts carrying his name.
There now seems three ways this transfer will play out, with Coutinho being at Anfield beyond this summer the unlikeliest.
The other two are that Barca secure an immediate transfer or that a deal is agreed for the player to move to Spain in the summer.