By Alex Stevens

Liverpool have opened talks with Philippe Coutinho over a new contract, according to a report.

The Times claim the Merseyside giants are keen to reward the attacking midfielder for a series of electrifying display this season.

It is said that Liverpool will move to tie Coutinho down to improved terms even though he signed a five-year contract in February 2015.

The Brazil international, 24, has emerged as arguably the outstanding player in Jurgen Klopp’s squad and has been linked with a big-money transfer to Barcelona where his close friend Luis Suarez plays.

Klopp has hailed Coutinho as a “genius” for the quality of his play, which has been elevated to a new level since the German took over at Anfield 15 months ago.

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The Times report that the terms of a release clause will play no part in negotiations between the player and the Premier League club.

His current contract does not have a buy-out clause in it and Liverpool will not accept one being inserted during the discussions that will now take place.

This would mean Liverpool are in a powerful position to retain their influential No10 in the summer when there is expected to be an avalanche of speculation about Barcelona interest.

The front page of Catalan paper SPORT recently carried the headline ‘Objetivo Coutinho’ and suggested that Coutinho was Barcelona’s No 1 summer target and they are preparing a whopping £65million bid in an attempt to lure him to the club.

The Liverpool ace has been instrumental in his side’s title challenge this season and was sorely missed during his two-month absence with an ankle injury.

In other Liverpool transfer news, the club have tabled a mega bid for a young defender and a record-breaking deal has been agreed.

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