Steven Gerrard believes Barcelona are telling Coutinho to move 'now or never'
Steven Gerrard believes Barcelona are putting pressure on Philippe Coutinho to force his way out of Liverpool this summer but told BT Sport that "the least he can do is give the club another year."
Barcelona have targeted Coutinho as they seek to strengthen their squad following Neymar's €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain, but Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) issued a statement on Friday insisting the 25-year-old will not be sold.
Club legend Gerrard, who now works as an academy coach at Anfield, said in his role as a pundit for BT: "The problem here are Barcelona, because they will be saying to Coutinho's representatives: 'It's now or never. If he doesn't come now, we're never coming back for him ever again.' So they're piling the pressure on and that's why Philippe's reacted.
"This kid who's come from South America has always had a dream of playing for Barcelona, and he's panicking thinking that if he doesn't do it now it'll never happen again."
Asked if he had sympathy for Coutinho, Gerrard said: "A little bit. Of course. I know the kid, I know he's not a bad person, I know he doesn't want to cause a war to come out. But at the end of the day he's just signed a five-year deal, the club have been superb to him and made him the player he is.
"You remember he was struggling at Inter Milan. We gave him the chance, we built this player up. The least he can do is give the club another year."
Luis Suarez, who joined Barcelona in 2014, remained at Liverpool for a further year despite having been tempted by a move to Arsenal when they attempted to trigger his buyout clause in 2013.
Asked how he convinced Suarez to give Liverpool one more year, Gerrard said: "It was slightly different. Obviously Arsenal were calling.
"I'm not sure Barcelona were calling for Suarez at that time. There was a bit of speculation in the papers but they were only rumours. I'm not sure Barcelona were there at that time for Suarez. The only people I heard were there for real were Arsenal. They were offering £40m and one pence.
"For me, what Suarez had done at the club and the relationship he had with the fans, I just sat him down and said: 'Why ruin all that and go and join a club that gives you no guarantees of success? I don't think you're making such a big a jump up. Why don't you be patient, give Liverpool another season? The fans will understand if you give them another year and then Barcelona come.'
"I think the difference here is Coutinho in January has just signed a five-year deal, become the highest-paid player at the club, he comes out and says he's really, really happy and then the first time Barcelona come he puts in a transfer request. I think the fans are frustrated and you can understand it."
Asked if he would speak try to speak to Coutinho, Gerrard said: "I'm not involved. I think Jurgen's got it under control, I think FSG have got it under control, and they're the key. There's been times in the past where players have been unsettled and they've gone in and said 'I'm desperate to go' and it's ended up happening.
"This is a huge test for the club from top to bottom to try and be as strong as they can to the end and don't give in."
Asked if he thought the player would stay or go, Gerrard replied: "Stays, for me."
After Liverpool's season-opening draw on Saturday, Klopp said FSG would be the ones to decide whether to sell Coutinho.
"What I can say, as manager in a football club, I have bosses," he said. If bosses decide, for example, we sell a player then I have to accept it. Then if they don't sell him then I'm not involved anymore and I'm responsible for all players, not just one or two.
"I cannot say anything about it, but I only work with the players I have. That is what I was always doing. How can it change something for me? I didn't make the decision. It's just like it is."
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