EXCLUSIVE | By Merseyside correspondent Coral Barry
Philippe Coutinho would rather move to Spain than another Premier League club when he leaves Liverpool, Football Insider sources understand.
The Brazilian is more attracted to the possibility of joining either Barcelona or Real Madrid than the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.
Liverpool are privately adamant that Coutinho will not be sold and that they regard him as crucial to the plans of new manager Jurgen Klopp.
But the 23-year-old is on the radar of some of Europe’s biggest clubs after emerging as Liverpool’s outstanding player since Luis Suarez joined Barcelona in the summer of 2014.
Sources have said there is genuine interest in Coutinho from Barcelona, Chelsea and City and that he will be closely monitored over the course of the season.
Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian has reassured Liverpool that his client is “extremely happy” at Anfield after signing a five-year contract in February of this year. He added: “Reports that I have been talking to clubs about Philippe are not true. His aspirations are to qualify for the Champions League with Liverpool this season and to win a trophy. That is all that he is focused on – nothing else.”
Nevertheless, the player is understood to have ambitions to play in Spain, which he believes would be ideal for his technical style of play.
He will also be aware that Liverpool have sold their prize assets – Suarez in 2014 and then Raheem Sterling this summer – in each of the last two years.
Coutinho was forced to drop out of the Brazil squad this week due to a groin injury suffered in last weekend’s Merseyside derby.
In the latest Liverpool news, he is hoping to be fit for Klopp’s first match in charge at Tottenham next Saturday.