South American football expert Tim Vickery has claimed Liverpool ace Phillippe Coutinho will not leave this summer, despite reported interest from La Liga giants Barcelona. With Brazilian superstar Neymar set to move to Paris Saint-Germain within the next fews days, Barça are eyeing up a number of possible replacements, with Coutinho thought to be the primary target.
In an interview with Talksport, Vickery was given the opportunity to voice his opinion on the future of the 25-year-old Reds' star, and claimed that a move away from Anfield is unlikely this summer. Vickery stated:
"Liverpool have a strong negotiating position in that he’s signed a contract and it’s a World Cup year. He’s a good pro, and he doesn’t really have the incentive to pull a sulk in a World Cup year.
"Although, in business terms, what a fantastic piece of business it would be for Liverpool. They bought him for a song when Inter Milan had more or less given up on him."
Liverpool have been adamant in their refusal to entertain offers for their star player, who has rapidly become one of the best players Premier League during his five-year stint at Anfield. Vickery also compared the lifestyles of Coutinho and Neymar, claiming:
"He’s not quite Neymar, but he’s pretty good and he’s pretty much the model professional. During the course of last season, there were whispers and murmurings coming out from Barcelona, that they were worried about Neymar’s lifestyle. It is just possible that Barcelona will come out of this (for the better).”
With Barcelona set to net a reported £199m, world record obliterating fee for Neymar, football pundits have been excitedly pondering who could replace the void left by the superstar in their side. While Coutinho appears to be the top target, rumours also suggest that Barça may attempt to trigger the £200m release clause of Atlético Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.