Man City line up bid for Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho
IF you can't beat him, buy him. Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has watched Philippe Coutinho plunder points from his players in successive seasons and he is ready to splash the cash to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Coutinho cost Liverpool a relatively modest £7.5m in 2013 and is tied to the club for the next five years.
He has spoken several times about his passion for Liverpool and repaid Brendan Rodgers for giving him a chance by signing the new contract a month ago.
Speculation linking Manchester City with Raheem Sterling has been rife since the England winger turned down Anfield's latest contract offer and Rodgers will head into the summer transfer market looking over his shoulder and wondering whether he will be able to hang on to key men.
Whether Manuel Pellegrini will have any say in Manchester City's transfer dealings remains to be seen.
The team's recent slide down the table has produced an increasing level of speculation about his future which will be further fuelled by former Argentina boss Alex Sabella's claim that is mulling over an offer from the Etihad.
Sabella has been offered the manager's job at Sao Paolo but has asked for time before giving them a decision because of interest from the Etihad.
Whether this is a fervid imagination at work or a bid to lever a better deal out of Sao Paolo is anyone's guess but it does highlight the fact that Pellegrini is looking vulnerable.