Liverpool open talks with Philippe Coutinho over new long-term contract

Liverpool open talks with Philippe Coutinho over new long-term contract

Liverpool have opened contract discussions with talisman and attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho as they hand the Brazilian a deal worthy of his ever-increasing importance to the club.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool have begun talks with playmaker Philippe Coutinho over a new long-term contract.

The Brazilian still has three years remaining on his existing deal, but the Reds want to reward their No.10 with an improved offering that reflects his huge importance to Jürgen Klopp's team.

Coutinho, who has six goals and five assists to his name in all competitions this term, was sorely missed by his teammates during a recent two-month spell out with an ankle ligament injury.

The mercurial 24-year-old has been linked with Barcelona for his performances this season and while Klopp has played down speculation, the move to offer him a new deal suggests Liverpool are wary of interest.

It is also widely thought that Coutinho earns considerably less than some of his teammates, this new contract putting him closer to the club's highest earners - such as Jordan HendersonDaniel SturridgeSadio Mane and James Milner.

Reds keen to tie Coutinho down for long-term future

Reports have also suggested that Liverpool are keen to prevent the inclusion of a release clause in Coutinho's new deal - with Barcelona having exercised Luis Suarez's £75 million clause only seven months after the Uruguayan signed a new long-term deal on Merseyside.

The lack of a release clause will give Liverpool the upper hand when it comes to negotiating with any interested clubs, with Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain also having been linked with Coutinho in the summer. 

Coutinho - who joined Liverpool from Inter Milan in January 2013 for £8.5 million - only returned to action against Manchester United earlier this month before making his first start since November 26 in their FA Cup third round replay win over Plymouth Argyle last week.

Despite playing an hour of the Premier League defeat to Swansea City at the weekend, Coutinho was absent from training on Monday ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final second-leg against Southampton.

Coutinho is the latest of a number of Liverpool players to be linked with a new deal, although there have been no updates on improved contracts for the likes of Adam Lallana and Emre Can despite them being linked with such at the start of the current campaign.