Liverpool were famously unwilling to even entertain the notion of selling when Barcelona were submitting huge bid after huge bid in August, but the landscape appears to have changed.
A report from Duncan Castles for Yahoo! Sport claims that talks between the clubs are to be held on Thursday. It seemingly shows that Liverpool are getting ready to sell if their rumoured €150m asking price is met.
Coutinho was keen to leave in summer, even submitting a transfer request. He agreed to recommit to Liverpool, temporarily honouring the long-term contract he had signed last season, but the Catalan press have long maintained there has always been an understanding between the Brazilian and the Reds that he would be allowed to leave in January.
Liverpool est conscient de la volonté du joueur et commence à lâcher du lest. Maintenant une affaire de monnaie et d’accord entre LFC et FCB. Mais Liverpool demande beaucoup vraiment beaucoup— Mohamed Bouhafsi (@mohamedbouhafsi) January 4, 2018
While that seemed like overly optimistic reporting from Spain, it now looks as though there may actually have been substance to it after all.
A separate report by Melissa Reddy for Goal.com appears to back up the suggestion that Coutinho really is close to leaving. The important part of the deal appears to be that Barcelona's new €150m will not be 'bloated' by 'unrealistic extras', presenting Liverpool with more cash up front and more likely to see the additional bonuses triggered further down the line.
The Yahoo! story further notes that Liverpool have been working on a deal to replace Coutinho.
Monaco winger Thomas Lemar seems like the most obvious choice. It is believed that the France international was keen on a summer move, before Arsenal came on the scene and agreed a fee with his club instead - Lemar of course rejected the Gunners.
He remains available and could be the perfect like-for-like replacement for Coutinho. Given that Lemar would likely cost around £80m, Liverpool's net spend in January might barely reach £20m, even after for the existing capture of £75m Virgil van Dijk.