It took the third largest amount ever paid for a footballer to prise Coutinho away from Liverpool and the rumour mill has already linked the club with Leicester‘s Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez as a possible replacement for the Brazilian playmaker.
Neither club has officially confirmed or denied the deal, despite reports from France saying Mahrez would have a medical soon at Liverpool.
The club’s number one target, according to many reports, is the French international forward Thomas Lemar, part of the impressive Monaco team that reached the Champions League semi-finals last year but which has since been dismantled.
Arsenal had a £92 million bid ($125 million, 104 million euros) for 22-year-old Lemar rejected in the summer transfer window and the player is reportedly keen to work with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Monaco have already crashed out of the Champions League this season, so Lemar could be open to a move, although coach Leonardo Jardim is reluctant to see one of his remaining star names leave.
“Monaco don’t usually make big sales in the winter,” Jardim said last week.
Other reports have linked Liverpool with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, an increasingly divisive figure at the Emirates. His contract expires in the summer, meaning Arsenal either cash in on the Chilean now or risk seeing him walk away for nothing.
Before the January transfer window even opened, Liverpool moved to address their defensive frailties by bringing in Dutch centre-back Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton for £75 million, one of the most expensive transfers in history.
Arsenal, who were dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday, face a similar dilemma with Mesut Ozil, who is also out of contract in the summer.
Meanwhile, Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has admitted he has been in talks about bringing Theo Walcott back to the club from Arsenal.
The enormous TV receipts enjoyed by Premier League clubs forces many into the transfer market to compete with the biggest earners in their own division.
So Everton, still far from safe from relegation after a dreadful start to the season, have signed a much-needed centre-forward in Cenk Tosun on a four-and-a-half-year deal worth a reported £27 million.
The forward has scored 41 goals in 96 Turkish Super Lig games for Besiktas.
Leicester City will fight to keep Mahrez, who was one of the driving forces when the unfashionable club won the Premier League title in 2016.
But if Mahrez is tempted away – and he reportedly has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave if a substantial bid comes along in this window – then Leicester’s French boss Claude Puel could turn to Hatem Ben Arfa, who has failed to break into Paris Saint-Germain‘s star-studded first team.
Ben Arfa has previous Premier League experience with Newcastle and he worked with Puel at Nice in the 2015-2016 season.
PSG could be prepared to let Ben Arfa leave cheaply as the Qatari-backed club need to reduce their wage bill to comply with financial fair play rules after their spending reached stratospheric levels last summer with the world-record arrival of Neymar for 222 million euros, followed by the acquisition of the lavishly talented French teenager Kylian Mbappe.
Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura also looks set to be offloaded by PSG, with fellow Ligue 1 side Nantes entering the race for his signature.
Javier Pastore could be allowed to leave the French capital, with Inter Milan leading the race for his services. The Argentinian may not have helped his case for by arriving back in Paris late from his New Year holiday.
Several Premier League clubs are also said to be tracking two young talents in the Bundesliga.
Bayer Leverkusen’s 20-year-old Jamaican winger Leon Bailey is said to be a target for Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, and German international midfielder Leon Goretzka could reportedly join Liverpool from Schalke 04 on a free transfer next summer.
Two veteran German strikers, Sandro Wagner and Mario Gomez, will have new teammates when Bundesliga action resumes next weekend. Wagner is the new backup for Robert Lewandowski at league leaders Bayern Munich while Gomez has joined Stuttgart.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Antoine Griezmann will demand £400,000 a week to join Manchester United in favour of Barcelona, the Sun reports. The paper says the Atletico Madrid striker has been lined up in an £89m deal to join the Red Devils next summer, but that the club have been told their initial offer of £290,000 a week is short of what the 26-year-old wants.
Liverpool are ready to make a move for Monaco star Thomas Lemar as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, according to the Mirror. The paper says Monaco are making it clear they do not want to sell Lemar, but that Liverpool are ready to test their resolve given any encouragement. However, Sky Sports reports that Liverpool’s decision to allow Coutinho to join Barcelona will not bring forward any possible move for Lemar.
The Mirror also reports that Liverpool are prepared to use some of the record £142m windfall from Coutinho’s move to Barcelona to bring Naby Keita to Anfield early. The side agreed a £55m deal for the midfielder with RB Leipzig in the summer, and the Guinea international was due to spend this season on loan at the Bundesliga side. But the paper says Liverpool are considering paying a premium on top of the fee to bring him in during the January transfer window instead.
Real Madrid are reportedly looking at Cheslea duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois as transfer targets this summer. According to Sky Sports, the pair have regularly been linked with Real but are now top of the Spanish champions’ shopping lists.
Chelsea’s Jake Clarke-Salter is poised to complete a loan move to Sunderland, the Daily Mail reports. The paper says the defender, who has been highly-rated at Stamford Bridge, has caught the eye of several Championship clubs, but has been convinced to make the move to Sunderland for a relegation scrap.
SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP
@TheSunfootball: Man City ready to make incredible £50m bid for unlikely Premier League star
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ben Wilmot: Liverpool and Arsenal are said to be eyeing up the 18-year-old defender. The Daily Mail reports that scouts for the two sides were watching him as he impressed for Stevenage in their draw against Reading on Saturday.
Karl Toko Ekambi: Brighton are battling West Brom and arch-rivals Crystal Palace for the £12m rated Cameroon striker, the Mirror claims. Seagulls boss Chris Hughton is said to be keen to tie up a deal for the 25-year-old, who plays for French side Angers.
The 25-year-old was the subject of a £118million bid from the Catalan club in August, an approach Liverpool rejected, but he is now heading to the Nou Camp after a deal was agreed on Saturday.
A statement read: “Liverpool can confirm Philippe Coutinho will be leaving the club after a transfer agreement was reached with Barcelona, subject to medical and agreement of personal terms.
“The player now has permission to complete the usual formalities to conclude the transfer immediately.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stressed his club had done everything possible to persuade Coutinho to remain at Anfield, but revealed the player had been “desperate” to move to Spain ever since July.
“It is with great reluctance that we – as a team and club – prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho,” Klopp said on Liverpool’s website.
“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known.
“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
“Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.
“I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of Liverpool was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100 per cent certain his future – and that of his family – belongs at Barcelona.
“It is his dream and I am now convinced there is nothing left at our disposal to change his mind.”
After being rebuffed by Liverpool when making three bids for Coutinho in the summer, Barcelona instead bought French forward Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for £93million.
That initially reassured Liverpool fans that Coutinho would not be pursued again, but Dembele has missed the last four months of action through injury and speculation about a renewed Catalonian bid for the Anfield favourite grew ever louder heading into the new year.
The saga took an unexpected turn when Nike reportedly advertised a Barcelona shirt for sale with the Brazilian’s name on it in late December. The page is no longer on the website.
Press Association Sport understands the fee for Coutinho consists of an initial 120 million euros (£106.5million), with a further 40 million euros (£35.5million) hinging on add-ons involved in the signing.
Barcelona said the buy-out fee in his new contract will be 400 million euros (£354.5million).
He had not played for Liverpool since the January transfer window opened because of a thigh problem and did not travel with the squad for their warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
Coutinho instead headed to Spain to formalise his transfer on Saturday night and it is expected he will be presented by LaLiga leaders Barcelona on Sunday or Monday.
The Rio-born player arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan for £8.5million in January 2013 and scored 54 goals for the Reds across his appearances in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay.