The Brazilian’s representatives are pushing to finally get a deal over the line this month after months of speculation. The Spanish giants are confident that an offer around £130m may be enough to tempt the Reds to sell this time around after failing with three bids in the summer.
But Carragher believes a deal where Coutinho moves at the end of the season would be the best course of action.
Transfers: 50 players that are out of contract in 2018
“Best thing for Liverpool is agree the BIG fee for Coutinho to go in the summer like we’ve done with Keita, not now,” he tweeted. “What do the club gain by doing it now? Top four and Champions League progression seriously risked if they sell in Jan, & difficult to replace him now. If he goes on strike he damages himself.”
There has as yet been no bid for Coutinho since the summer and as long as that continues to be the case there is obviously nothing to discuss. Similarly, Jurgen Klopp has no great desire to lose one of his best players halfway through the season.
But there can be denying that the Reds’ stance on Coutinho has softened a little and while it is impossible to read too much into Barca’s misplaced over-confidence, the fact that agents working with the Liverpool man believe they are close to a breakthrough should not be ignored.
The former Inter Milan playmaker has made little fuss since September’s transfer deadline and has knuckled down during the autumn, but the very least he would like to happen this month would be to have a deal signed that sees him join Barca at the end of the season – which, as Carragher points out, may be preferable to an immediate departure for the Reds, given their continued participation in the Champions League.
Barcelona need to sell players in order to bring in both of their big 2018 transfer targets, Antoine Griezmann and Coutinho, but Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, Paco Alcacer, Javier Mascherano and Denis Suarez are all players expected to make way in the next six months to free up room in their annual budget.
In the event that Coutinho does leave this month Liverpool would have liked to replace him with Naby Keita but any attempts to bring forward the midfielder’s £55m arrival have been firmly rebuffed by RB Leipzig.