Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan. The Liverpool Echo reports a fee of £8.5m will change hands and the 20-year-old attacking midfielder is expected in the city, next week, for a medical. Coutinho's transfer, the report adds, is subject to a work permit; the Reds are believed to be confident of receiving the necessary clearance.
Coutinho signed for Inter in 2010 (after agreeing a pre-contract two years prior) but has failed to establish himself at the Giuseppe Meazza since. The youngster's most promising period in Europe was while on a loan spell at Spanish club Espanyol, for whom he scored five goals in 16 La Liga appearances.
Liverpool's interest in Coutinho saw the Reds initially offer £5m for the player but the bid was rejected, with Inter demanding a higher valuation. The Premier League club then raised the offer to £8m but faced opposition from league rivals Southampton, after the Saints put in a considerably larger £10.2m bid for the player.
It now appears the Anfield club have beaten Southampton to Coutinho's signature. Saints recently fired manager Nigel Adkins, replacing him with former Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino. It is believed the club's interest in Coutinho was prompted by the Argentine's admiration of his fellow South American.
Initially, however, it appeared neither Liverpool nor Southampton would land Coutinho, after a report in the Mirror quoted the player as wanting to stay at Inter.
"I'm happy with these offers, because it means I am doing my job well. But I think Inter have faith in me and I want to show my value here. I don't feel that I'm on my way out. I hope to stay at Inter," the Brazil international said last week.
However, the tide turned in the Reds' favour after Coutinho informed Inter he preferred Liverpool over Southampton and, if all goes well, he will become Rodgers' second signing in January. 23-year-old England international Daniel Sturridge joined Anfield from Chelsea earlier this month.
Rodgers, meanwhile, has hinted at more arrivals on the red half of Merseyside. The former Swansea City boss, speaking before the Reds' FA Cup fourth round tie against Oldham Athletic, also praised the club's owners for their backing.
"We hope to do some business between now and the end of the month. The owners have been brilliant in supporting (me), we knew we were maybe a little bit short in the summer. We all agreed this was a month we would try to reinforce, if we could," the Northern Irishman explained.
Coutinho can reportedly play as a central midfielder, out on the wings or just behind the striker. The Brazilian's versatility will add value to the Reds' starting line-up, as Rodgers looks to strengthen his squad and challenge for a top four finish.
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