It was revealed on Boxing Day that Liverpool had agreed a record fee to bring Southampton defender van Dijk to Anfield once the transfer window reopens on Monday, welcomed news for Reds fans who have endured a frustrating season with the much-scrutinised Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip at the back.
However, though Liverpool have finally acquired their sought-after man following a dramatic transfer saga in the summer, Merson believes the deal for van Dijk will ultimately spell the end of talisman Coutinho’s career with the Reds.
Reported by mediareferee.com, Merson said of the van Dijk deal: “Liverpool spending £75m on Virgil van Dijk means Philippe Coutinho is going to Barcelona,” Merson wrote in his weekly column in The Daily Star.
“They will wait until the summer but he will go. He’s done enough this season for Barca to come back in for him, and he clearly wants to leave. I think it was the case of them saying to him, ‘Give us one more year and then you can go’.”
26-year-old Coutinho has been in startling form this season, registering an impressive 12 goals and eight assists in 17 appearances across all competitions.
BREAKING: Nike France are offering Barcelona fans the opportunity to get personalised Coutinho Barcelona jerseys on their official website. It states "Philippe Coutinho is ready to ignite Camp Nou." pic.twitter.com/P5AlXvbkD2— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) December 31, 2017
Following Barca’s £72m bid for Coutinho in the summer, the Brazilian handed in a transfer request soon after. Barca would put in another two bids for the midfielder, but Liverpool stood firm to keep their man.
However, it is common knowledge that the Catalonians are still very much interested in acquiring Coutinho’s services.
The fight for Philippe Coutinho looks like it’s just getting started… again pic.twitter.com/uZyYGO8zPH— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 31, 2017
Liverpool came back from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 on Saturday night, courtesy of a fine brace from man-of-the-moment Mo Salah.
The Reds currently sit in fourth place, four points ahead of both Arsenal and Tottenham, who each have a game in hand. Liverpool will travel to Turf Moor on New Year’s Day in their next league match against Burnley, before hosting local rivals Everton in the FA Cup on Friday night.