Wednesday 21 February 2018

Jurgen Klopp refuses to discuss Barcelona link to Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has refused to be drawn on the future of Philippe Coutinho as speculation about another bid from Barcelona escalates.

Coutinho is currently sidelined with a thigh strain which has ruled him out of Friday's FA Cup Merseyside derby at home to Everton.

However, the Reds boss expects the Brazil international to be available to face Premier League leaders Manchester City on January 14.

Liverpool turned down three bids from Barcelona in August - the final one was £118million which comprised add-ons totalling over £30million - and that resulted in Coutinho handing in a transfer request, which was also rejected.

At the time the club's principal owner John W Henry publicly stated that Liverpool would not sell the Brazilian. There has been no such declaration so far this winter, and a bid has yet to materialise from Catalonia despite increased speculation of another move for the playmaker.

Reports have also suggested Coutinho believes he has played his final match for the club.

Despite another injury to Coutinho coinciding with the opening of the transfer window - the Brazilian missed the whole of August with a back problem - Klopp is already looking towards the City game to bring him back.

"I think he is in a bunch of available players for the City game on January 14," said Klopp.

"All the things I could say now will only create stories. I have nothing to say about it.

"I opened the door halfway because I mentioned it was the transfer window but there is nothing I can say about it which would help me, the player or the club."

Asked whether he had to consider the possibility of having to replace Coutinho in January, Klopp added: "Whatever you can consider it is not my cup of tea.

"I really have nothing to say. Maybe 80 per cent of the cameras are here for these answers - that's a waste of time then."

Both Coutinho and top scorer Mohamed Salah (groin) will miss the visit of Everton but the match could see a debut for £75million signing Virgil van Dijk.

The Holland international completed his move from Southampton on January 1 but Klopp is in no rush to send out the world's most expensive defender.

"Mo and Phil are not available so it is not possible. With Virgil it is different, he is obviously healthy and I have to make a decision for this game," said Klopp.

"I can imagine everyone is desperate to see him on the pitch but from our point of view there is no rush and it is much more important how many good games he can play for us."

Loris Karius will start in goal with Simon Mignolet given the weekend off as third-choice Danny Ward will be on the bench.

The Wales international spent a successful season on loan at Huddersfield last year but has been restricted to one appearance in the Carabao Cup defeat at Leicester back in September.

That does not mean he - or any of his under-used team-mates - are primed for loans this month.

"Loris will play. I am pretty sure Wardy is sub, which means Simon has a little break," said Klopp.

"Danny is a young, very skilled goalkeeper with a lot of potential which means space for improvement and we are quite desperate to build on that together with him.

"There is enough to do for all of the boys so there is no rush in that and we cannot help other clubs before we help ourselves."

Press Association

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