MANCHESTER CITY have made Philippe Coutinho their THIRD transfer target from Premier League rivals Liverpool.
The billionaires are poised to go on another multi-million pound spending spree this summer following a woeful season.
The champions are expected to overhaul their squad in the wake of a campaign that will see them win no silverware.
Chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak is drawing up a shopping list of names that already includes England stars Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.
Now it has emerged the big-spenders are also considering a swoop for Brazil ace Coutinho as well.
It is understood club bosses believe Coutinho can be lured to the Etihad in a £20m deal if the Reds fail to secure a top four finish this season and place in the Champions League.
The news will stun Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, who could now find his club under siege from one of his biggest rivals during the close season.
Rodgers is desperate to keep his biggest stars at Anfield, but he knows he cannot compete with the billions of City owner Sheikh Mansour.
It is unlikely City will attempt to buy all three, but the loss of one, or even two players to City would be a huge blow to Rodgers, who will also have to cope without talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard following his decision to join LA Galaxy.
Coutinho, 22, joined the Merseysiders from Inter Milan for £8m in 2013 after snubbing interest from Southampton.
He has gone on to establish himself as an integral member of Rodgers’ side and was rewarded with an improved deal in February that tied him to Anfield until 2020.
This won’t stop City from trying to poach him, however, although Reds bosses will hold out for closer to £35m for someone who is under contract for another four seasons after this one.
Coutinho was left out of the Brazil squad for last summer’s World Cup but has re-established himself under new coach Dunga and has been tipped for a long international career.
Sterling, meanwhile, has become a major target of City’s as the rising Three Lions star considers his options after refusing to sign a new £100,000-a-week deal at Anfield.
Etihad bosses are also keen to land a proven central midfielder as speculation mounts that Yaya Toure could leave, with Henderson emerging as a possible target along with France and Juventus ace Paul Pogba.