Ever since Neymar moved to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of 222 million euros, rumours floated almost immediately about Barcelona eyeing Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho as replacement to the Brazilian. It was reported that Barcelona have twice approached Liverpool regarding the transfer of Coutinho and both times they had to face rejection. On Friday, Coutinho, handed in a transfer request but Liverpool remained adamant about not selling the midfielder.
However Reds legend Steven Gerrard commented Barcelona are putting pressure on Coutinho to force his way out of Liverpool.
Speaking to BT Sport, where he is a football pundit, Gerrard said, "The problem here are Barcelona, because they will be saying to Coutinho's representatives: 'It's now or never. If he doesn't come now, we're never coming back for him ever again.' So they're piling the pressure on and that's why Philippe's reacted."
Gerrard also said that Liverpool made Coutinho the player he is today and the least he can do is to play one more year with the club.
"You remember he was struggling at Inter Milan. We gave him the chance, we built this player up. The least he can do is give the club another year," Gerrard said.
Barcelona's relentless pursuit of Coutinho had prompted Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to issue a statement on 11 August.
"The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes," the statement read.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had earlier said that Barca can "save their energy" in their pursuit of Coutinho but when asked about the situation following their first match against Watford in new Premier League season, Klopp maintained Coutinho's future is out of his hands.
"As a manager of a football club I have bosses, and if bosses decide, for example, we sell a player or we don't sell him, then I have to accept it. If they don't sell him, then I'm not involved anymore," Klopp said.
Asked if Coutinho's transfer request could change the club's stance, Klopp added, "You have to ask them. But I don't think so because I think it was pretty clear what the club, FSG, said about it."
With inputs from AFP
Updated Date: Aug 13, 2017 18:21 PM