LONDON • Liverpool are bracing themselves for a double blow, with Emre Can set to follow Philippe Coutinho out of Anfield.
Barcelona are proposing a transfer fee worth about £142 million (S$255.5 million) for Coutinho, offering the Reds a chance to make a £133.5 million profit on a player they signed for £8.5 million five years ago.
The two clubs are now in contact, via the Brazil international's representatives, over what would be the third-biggest transfer in history.
According to Spanish daily Marca, the LaLiga leaders are so confident that Coutinho will join them imminently that there are plans in place for his presentation on Monday.
Barcelona are willing to pay about £106 million as a base figure with the remaining £36 million no longer linked to bonus payments - such as for if he won the Ballon d'Or - as was the case in the summer when they had three bids rejected and Liverpool were not willing to sell.
Instead, they would receive instalments for him making a set number of appearances for Barcelona or the Catalan club winning trophies.
Liverpool have made attempts in recent days to persuade Coutinho to stay but their difficulty is that the issue is not money. The 25-year-old will not be swayed by the promise of a huge pay rise - even until the end of the season - because his heart is set on moving to the Nou Camp this month.
3rd The proposed £142 million (€160 million) fee for Coutinho would make this the third-most expensive transfer in football. France's Paris Saint-Germain can lay claim to the sport's two most expensive purchases in Neymar (€222m) and Kylian Mbappe (€180m).
The midfielder believes a deal is close and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp refused to offer any reassurances about Coutinho's future ahead of the club's FA Cup third-round clash against Everton this morning (Singapore time).
That only highlighted the change in stance at the Premier League club since August when the player was not for sale at any price.
Klopp also refused to discuss whether he was searching for a replacement for Coutinho, and it is understood that no approach has been made for Monaco's Thomas Lemar.
Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu is leading the push to recruit Coutinho as the club seek a successor to Andres Iniesta, 33.
Conversations, via the player's agents Kia Joorabchian and Giuliano Bertolucci, are taking place rather than bids simply being tabled - another difference to what happened in the summer.
Neymar is the world's most expensive player at €222 million (S$355 million) and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe will become the second-most expensive when his loan is made permanent for €180 million this summer.
That is when Liverpool can expect to lose Can on a free transfer.
Sky Italy yesterday reported the midfielder, who is out of contract in the summer, has reached an agreement in principle to join Italian champions Juventus in June.
Having entered the last six months of his Anfield deal, Can is allowed to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club.
According to The Guardian, the German international will ink a five-year deal worth £85,000 a week and pocket a sizeable signing-on fee.
THE TIMES, LONDON