Paul Ince: If Coutinho’s going to leave Liverpool, it’s got to be now

The former Liverpool midfielder believes it’s now or never for Coutinho – and that Virgil Van Dijk is worth the £75million world record fee the Reds paid for him…

I don’t think it would work if Liverpool agreed a deal for Philippe Coutinho to join Barcelona at the end of the season.

He’s clearly desperate to go to Barca, and Liverpool have done well to hold onto him this long to be honest.

Coutinho is very fortunate that he’s playing in front of a very knowledgeable Anfield crowd at the moment, and they haven’t turned on him because they obviously want him to stay.

But if you were to agree for him to go in the summer, that relationship could become completely different.

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It would be very hard, especially as Coutinho’s heart has been set on this move for so long, to play for Liverpool for the next five months. You don’t know what’s going through a player’s mind when they know they’re off somewhere else – how could he be totally focused on Liverpool knowing he’s going to Barca?

As soon as I knew I was going to sign for Inter Milan, all I could think about was housing, family and where are we going to live – all the stuff outside football.

That will take his concentration off Liverpool and he won’t be the same player he should be.

That could get the fans on his back and then he’d end up leaving the club on a bad vibe. So if he’s going to go, he’s got to go now.

We’ve seen with Salah’s form, Lallana is back fit and Mané back to his best that Liverpool will be okay without him. Of course, Coutinho will be missed because he’s an outstanding player, but Klopp’s bought well enough for his side to be alright without him.

Squad wise Liverpool have enough there to not miss Coutinho.

Van Dijk is worth £75milion

Everyone is going to say the £75million Liverpool paid is a lot of money to throw away on a centre-half, but if that’s what Southampton want and it’s what Liverpool are prepared to pay, then that’s the market.

That’s got nothing to do with Virgil van Dijk. People will shout ‘he’s not worth it’, but he’s worth what someone is willing to pay for him.

Let’s be honest, he’s a brilliant central defender and when you look at Liverpool from an attacking point of view, they are just as good as Manchester City.

So, if they can get that defensive unit right, and Van Dijk will help them do that, then next year they could make a really serious challenge for the Premier League title.

I’m actually dismayed that no other clubs made a play for Van Dijk, because he’s that good.

He’s now going to have to take the pressure of that £75million fee on his shoulders when he starts playing, because every mistake he makes will be scrutinised.

On the flip side, Van Dijk’s also got to show he’s worth that kind of money and I reckon he will because he’s a top player.

You see it with Paul Pogba now. When he first arrived for a big fee, people complained about the amount spent on him. However, this season we’re seeing what kind of a world class player he actually is.

It will take time for Van Dijk to get up to speed on the Liverpool way under Klopp, especially because he’s been out injured for a while. I am hoping that he plays against Everton on Friday though.

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