Steven Gerrard believes that Barcelona will be piling the pressure on Philippe Coutinho to force his way out of Liverpool this summer.

Having sold Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million, the Catalan side are seeking offensive reinforcements and have targeted the Brazil international as well as Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele.

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Coutinho handed in a transfer request on Friday, and the Reds’ legend believes the player will have acted under duress from Barca, who had previously failed with two bids.

“The problem here are Barcelona, because they will be saying to Coutinho’s representatives: ‘It’s now or never. If he doesn’t come now, we’re never coming back for him ever again.’ So they’re piling the pressure on and that’s why Philippe’s reacted,” he told BT Sport.

“This kid who’s come from South America has always had a dream of playing for Barcelona, and he’s panicking thinking that if he doesn’t do it now it’ll never happen again.”

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Despite the situation, Gerrard has some sympathy for the 25-year-old.

“I know the kid, I know he’s not a bad person, I know he doesn’t want to cause a war to come out. But at the end of the day he’s just signed a five-year deal, the club have been superb to him and made him the player he is,” he explained.

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“You remember he was struggling at Inter. We gave him the chance, we built this player up. The least he can do is give the club another year.”

The ex-England midfielder believes this could be a watershed moment for the Anfield side to prove they have title-winning ambitions.

“I think Jurgen Klopp’s got it under control, I think FSG have got it under control, and they’re the key,” he explained.

“There have been times in the past where players have been unsettled and they’ve gone in and said ‘I’m desperate to go’ and it’s ended up happening.

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“This is a huge test for the club from top to bottom to try and be as strong as they can to the end and don’t give in.”

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After Saturday’s Premier League draw with Watford, Klopp admitted that he would have to “accept decisions from owners” over the player’s future.

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