Liverpool are yet to receive a new bid from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho, but reports in Spain claim a renewed offer for the midfielder is imminent.
Barcelona’s long-standing interest in the 25-year-old has been rekindled by the January transfer window and his continued desire to join the club.
Liverpool are now braced for another attempt to secure a deal this month.
Liverpool rejected three offers, and a transfer request from the Brazilian, before the start of this season.
The last of Barcelona’s three bids was £118m – which included add-ons totalling in excess of £30m based on Coutinho winning the Ballon d’Or, and other built-in clauses.
Barcelona will have to increase that last offer, without assorted clauses, to have any hope of resurrecting a deal.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are refusing to be drawn into any public debate about an issue that provided an unwelcome backdrop to manager Jurgen Klopp’s planning for this campaign when it became a saga during the last close season.
Liverpool will also know sanctioning a sale could impact on their pursuit of a place in the Premier League’s top four and the Champions League, where they face Porto in the last 16.
Coutinho could not play for Barcelona in the Champions League having already represented Liverpool, but this has not cooled the Catalans’ intention of doing a deal this month.
And in a bizarre twist, Coutinho’s name briefly appeared on a Nike advert for Barcelona shirts this week before being removed.
Significantly, however, there has been no repeat of the hardline public stance Liverpool adopted last summer when the club issued a statement insisting “no offers will be considered” for Coutinho and this was a “definitive stance”.
Coutinho, who joined Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5m in January 2013, was also told he would not be leaving in that summer transfer window in a meeting with Mike Gordon, president of Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group.
Liverpool manager Klopp has also sidestepped attempts to get him to confirm Coutinho will be staying at Anfield, saying: “In my business it makes absolutely no sense to talk about things that could maybe happen because that creates stories that are 90% of the time not true.”
‘Coutinho is a great player’
Speaking at a news conference before his side’s Copa del Rey tie against Celta Vigo, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde declined to comment on the speculation.
“I have nothing to say on the subject of Coutinho,” said Valverde, 53. “He isn’t one of our players. He is at another team and we respect the fact that he is at another team.
“He is a great player and we don’t know what is going to happen in the future. However, I much prefer the players that I currently have in my team and they are the ones who concern me.”
‘Sell in the summer’
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has said the club should try to delay the sale of Coutinho until the summer in order to boost their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
“What do the club gain by doing it now?” Carragher said on Twitter.
The 39-year-old added that Liverpool should agree a deal similar in principle to the one that will take RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita to Anfield this summer.
Liverpool will complete the signing of Guinea midfielder Keita, 22, in July having arranged the transfer in August 2017.