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Saturday, January 26, 2013
Liverpool close on Coutinho - reports

Adam Digby, Italy correspondent & ESPN staff

Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho could be a Liverpool player as early as Monday, according to reports in the Italian media, with Reds manager Brendan Rodgers confirming the club still has unfinished business in the January transfer window.

Coutinho, 20, has been a target for the Reds throughout the January transfer window and, despite insisting he is happy in the Serie A, looks likely to move to the Premier League in the next week.

Liverpool have had two bids for the Brazilian rejected and reports across Britain suggest the Anfield club have refused to go above their original 8m offer, while Southampton are believed to have met the Nerazzurri's €13 million (10.2m) asking price for Coutinho.

But Sky Italia believe that Liverpool - the player's preferred destination should he move to England - have matched that sum in their final attempt to convince Inter to sell the former Vasco de Gama star.

Inter are working to reduce their mounting debts by moving on a number of the 2010 treble winning team including the €7.5m sale of Wesley Sneijder to Galatasaray earlier this week.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers confirmed he is still looking to recruit 'one or two' more players before the end of the January window, meaning the Coutinho deal is a key part of the club's plans.

"We hope to do some business between now and the end of the month," Rodgers said. "The owners have been brilliant and supporting.

"We know we still need one or two additions more. The club is doing everything it possibly can to assist me in that. If we can, great. If not, we'll have to review it again in the summer.

"We've got a young player who'll go out on loan to get some experience but apart from that I don't expect people [to go]. One or two, maybe, to come in."

Although many expect Liverpool to make a number of additions to their squad in the summer, Rodgers insists the Reds are focused on immediate success.

"The real plans are for now. Short term we want to improve and develop. You can see that, we brought in Daniel and he's been excellent so far," he said. "We got the recruitment team in, the lines are very clear, everyone has an understanding of where we're at and it's working how we envisaged it to work.

"There is a small group who communicate a lot and go through targets, and there is a small group who'll decide what players we're going to bring in. It's worked very, very well, and that relationship will only get better going forward.

"We acted quickly bringing Daniel Sturridge in and he's made a great impact, and proven that the owners were right to fund the money for him. 12 million for a player like Daniel Sturridge is a real bargain and I think he'll prove that over the next couple of seasons."

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