Liverpool legend John Aldridge says Philippe Coutinho will quit the club next summer after seeing his dream move to Barcelona blocked.
Coutinho had been keen to force through a £138million switch to the Nou Camp but Liverpool held firm and rejected all offers for their playmaker.
Now the Brazilian faces having to knuckle down and perform for the Reds as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title this season.
And while Anfield goalscoring hero Aldridge says he has little doubt Coutinho will give his all for the Reds this season, he says the chances are this will be the last season he will be playing for the club.
Aldridge, writing in the Liverpool Echo, said: “Make no mistake, Coutinho will come back. He’s a lovely fella, he’s a good family man, and Barcelona turned his head. It can happen.
“The move over there didn’t happen for him but I’m sure he’ll give us a really good season and wave goodbye next summer, because Barca will come back for him, he’s too good to be ignored.
“He’s just got to stay in form for Liverpool, put all this behind him and play with pride in the shirt.
“I understand why some fans are a bit unsure about him coming back but it’ll only take a belter from outside the area, and we’ll all be singing his name again.
“Despite what happened, he won’t down tools. The World Cup is coming up and he’s a big part of that Brazil side, don’t forget.
“He’ll play well, hopefully score 12, 14 goals, bag a load of assists, the fans will applaud him and he’ll go to Barca no problem.”
Coutinho has missed the first three weeks of the season with a back injury, but is expected to be available for selection this weekend’s crunch clash with Manchester City.
Yet Aldridge believes the Brazilian will have to settle for a place on the bench and have to be patient for his chance in Klopp’s starting line-up.
Aldridge added: “He will probably be in the squad and it will probably be on the bench, but that’s the right call for me.
“At the moment, the lads in the starting line-up are playing so well, he needs to wait. That’s how it should be, too.
“You look at the fixtures, and if the players do well, he might have a bit of a wait on his hands. Sevilla, Burnley… in fact, it could easily be that his first start is against Leicester in the cup in a few weeks time.
“But he will come back, and we’ll just have to see what Jurgen Klopp has planned for him at Liverpool.”