In Brief

Barcelona are ‘ready’ to buy Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho

Cash-rich Catalans anger Anfield officials after chief executive’s comments

Liverpool’s preparations for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United have received an unwanted distraction with worrying news from Spain.

The Liverpool Echo is one of many outlets to report the words of Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau who, when asked about Philippe Coutinho, replied: “We are ready to buy Coutinho in the winter market or any player the technical staff request.” 

The declaration will send a shiver down the spine of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who fought tooth and nail to keep hold of his talismanic Brazilian midfielder during the summer transfer window.

Coutinho has made no secret of his wish to head to Spain, even allegedly submitting a transfer request, but the Reds knocked back Barcelona’s offer of £118million such is their determination to hang on to the South American.

But with Barcelona having banked close to €200m (£179.2m) from the sale of Neymar to PSG in the summer they are in an enviable financial position and Grau warned the Reds: “The club is in a very solvent, positive position. We are doing things sensibly. What we want - and what we are achieving - is for our teams to be as competitive as possible.”

Predicted a record revenue of €897m (£803.8m) for this season, an increase of €189m (£169.3m) on last season, Grau boasted: “We’re presenting figures for this season which are the highest of any club in the world. No other teams - not even in the NBA or the NFL - reach these numbers.”

According to the Daily Mail, Barcelona will table a £120m bid in the new year although the paper adds that Liverpool are unlikely to be receptive with club officials said to be “furious” about Grau’s comments. 

Meanwhile, Italian outlet calciomercato says that Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has “given Liverpool renewed hope of a possible deal in the future”. 

The Reds were linked to the Slovenian shotstopper in the summer with Klopp known to have concerns about the reliability of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.

Although nothing came of the gossip, Handanovic appeared to leave the door slightly ajar while discussing his future with Inter’s official website: “I don’t know if I’ll end my career here,” said the 33-year-old. “We'll see what happen in the future. Now is it time for Inter to step up.” 

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