Liverpool miss out on windfall as Philippe Coutinho to be replaced by Liverpool team-mate

Philippe Coutinho could be replaced by a former Liverpool team-mate as he reportedly closes in on a return to his old club.

Surplus to requirements at Aston Villa, the Brazilian is claimed to be in advanced talks regarding a return to Vasco da Gama, having started his career with the club prior to joining Inter Milan in 2008.

The 31-year-old has ultimately struggled since leaving Liverpool to join Barcelona in a club-record £142m deal in January 2018. While he would be contracted to the Catalans for four and a half years, scoring 26 goals from 106 appearances, he soon found himself surplus to requirements as he failed to replicate his Reds form in La Liga.

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While he would win the treble on loan with Bayern Munich in 2019/20, they decided against signing the Brazil international permanently. Consequently, Coutinho remained on the fringes at Barcelona until Steven Gerrard signed him on loan for Aston Villa in January 2022.

Joining the Villans permanently in a £17m deal the following May, the appointment of Unai Emery as Gerrard’s successor in November 2022 ultimately signalled the beginning of the end of Coutinho’s time at Villa Park.

Sent on loan to Qatari side Al-Duhail SC last September, he is now reportedly set for a return to Brazil. However, he could be replaced by a former Liverpool team-mate in Qatar. Fabrizio Romano has claimed that Al Duhail have agreed personal terms with Luis Alberto regarding a move to the club, though still have to agree a fee with Lazio. Meanwhile, Italian journalist Matteo Moretto reports he could move on for €10m.

Now 31, Alberto joined the Reds from Sevilla in a £6.8m deal in June 2013. However, he made only 12 appearances for the club during an underwhelming first year with the club before departing on loan.

Following temporary stints with Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna, he signed for Lazio in a deal worth up to £6m in August 2016. Liverpool received £4.3m upfront, with a further £1.7m in add-ons - triggered in the event of European qualification - fulfilling the overall fee. Meanwhile, the Reds have also secured a 30% sell-on clause as part of the deal.

Alberto has established himself as a Lazio legend over the past eight seasons, making 307 appearances, returning 52 goals and 79 assists, and lifting the Coppa Italia in 2019. However, he has been linked with a move away from the club on a number of occasions, with an asking-price of £40m even touted at one time, and insisted last month that he would be moving on this summer.

“I don't know, but I know this is my last season here,” he told DAZN. “I don't want to take another euro from Lazio, I have already asked for the contract to be terminated. I think the time has come to step aside."

Confirming his decision on Instagram, the Spaniard wrote: “I am grateful for the displays of affection, my relationship with the Lazio fans is excellent and it is only a matter of pride.

“I thank you for everything that they have done in my years at the club, especially to the boys from the Curva Nord and the Tribuna Tevere who have always supported me.

“I will always have you in my heart. I will continue to work hard and give my all on the pitch until the last minute of the last match as I always have."

The 31-year-old would miss Lazio’s clash with Empoli earlier this month because of disciplinary reasons as he was suspended after skipping training. While he would come on as a late substitute against Inter Milan, he was left as an unused substitute against Sassuolo on the last day of the season and could have played his last game for the club as a result.

Alberto is seemingly set to be granted his desired exit after agreeing terms with Al Duhail. However, despite Liverpool’s 30% sell-on clause, which tends to be based on profit only, the Reds are unlikely to pocket any windfall - even if Lazio do sell the 31-year-old.

While slightly unclear, the clause is believed to have expired, considering the midfielder now left Anfield eight years ago. It’s understood that such clauses usually only last for the duration of the original contract length upon leaving.

Alberto signed a new five-year contract with Lazio in September 2020, before penning another four-year extension last October, with those original terms when departing Anfield long since overwritten as a result. That latest new deal has not stopped the Spaniard from now seeking a summer exit, though.

And while the specific terms of Alberto’s 2016 transfer to Lazio will confirm either way whether Liverpool are actually entitled to any further payments, it seems unlikely given his two extensions and how much time has passed since leaving the Reds.