Saturday 21 July 2018

Coutinho not for sale, insists Klopp as Catalan media suggest £127m Barcelona link

Philippe Coutinho. Getty
Philippe Coutinho. Getty

Timothy Abraham

Jurgen Klopp has dismissed Barcelona’s latest attempts to unsettle Philippe Coutinho and insisted the Liverpool playmaker remains a key player at Anfield.

The Catalan media claim Liverpool have informed Barcelona they would be prepared to let Coutinho leave in January provided they pay a £127m asking price.

Coutinho has been a subdued figure for Liverpool in recent weeks, with his displays put into the shadows by the brilliance, and goals, of Mohamed Salah.

The Brazilian has been utilised in a deeper midfield role for Liverpool which partially explains why he has not caught the eye as much, and a return of five goals in 12 appearances in all competitions this season should still not to be sniffed at.

Liverpool and their owners Fenway Sports Group fought hard to hang on to Coutinho in the last window in what became the transfer saga of the summer.

And ahead of Liverpool’s trip to face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League, Klopp affirmed his commitment to a player he deemed integral to the club.

“Named a price? Interesting,” said the Liverpool manager. “Of course Phil is still essential for us.

“Should we stop thinking about him in the moment just because there are more stories about him in the newspapers in Spain?

“There is absolutely nothing else to say about this.”

Klopp also insisted the attention on Salah has not created envy among his team-mates as he played down comparisons between the Egyptian and former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez.

Suarez had a strained relationship with Daniel Sturridge on the pitch, and the pair’s rivalry seemed to spur each other on at times.

However, Klopp revealed Salah is a vastly different personality from the Uruguayan and there is no envy or tension felt by his team-mates.

“Suarez was an aggressive leader,” Klopp said. “For sure, Mo isn't this kind of guy.

“If footballers would be kind of jealous of other players when they are very successful then they would not be here.

“Football is always up and down. Team players are always happy when someone makes a decision and it's decisive.  They are all only happy for Mo. We all are.

“Mo’s a fine, nice player with fantastic movements. He's a completely different personality. I don't like comparisons to be honest. Why should we do it?”

Meanwhile, Klopp has indicated that the club will be open to loan offers for midfielder Marko Grujic.

The 21-year-old Serbian, who joined Liverpool from Red Star Belgrade for £5.1m in January 2016, has made just two appearances for the Reds this season.

Klopp added: “Marko deserves to play more now. If it's not possible here then we need to think about it.

“I like the boy a lot. He has made progress like hell. His heading is outstanding but he doesn't make the squad a lot which isn't the best thing for him for sure.

“We will think about it. We always want to help the players. First of all as a club we have to think about ourselves.

“I really see Marko in the future playing for Liverpool. But he's not playing in the moment so we have to see what we can do to make it more likely that he comes through in the near future.”

Liverpool are without centre-back Joel Matip for the clash with Brighton after he picked up a muscle strain in the 3-0 win at Stoke City, while Klopp confirmed midfielder Adam Lallana will not be risked at the Amex having suffered a minor setback in his return from a long-term hamstring injury.

“Adam felt the muscle more than he should. We just need to be careful,” he said.

“It's nothing, really. After a really long and serious injury, it's a very busy time coming up and we want him in the best shape with as much resistance against the different things that can happen as possible.”

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