Liverpool have rejected a £72million opening bid from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho, reports the Daily Mail – but the Blaugrana are expected to return with another offer.
The Reds’ resolve will be put to the test this summer as they fight to keep hold of the playmaker, who scored 14 goals last season despite a spell on the sidelines.
Ernesto Valverde has reportedly identified the 25-year-old as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta, 33, who has just a year left on his contract.
Coutinho has friends at the Nou Camp, including Brazil team-mate Neymar and former Liverpool star Luis Suarez, and it remains to be seen how he responds to Barca’s interest.
Nevertheless, Barca would have to break their club record transfer fee, which they paid for Neymar in 2013, to force Liverpool to consider selling.
The Catalan board are thought to be under increasing pressure to make a marquee signing, with Nelson Semedo the only significant addition of the summer so far.
Gerard Deulofeu and Marlon have also arrived, but after coming second in La Liga and only reaching the Champions League semi-finals, they will need bigger changes if they are to overtake Real Madrid once again.