Monday 20 August 2018

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can not distracted by Barcelona and Juventus rumours

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho. Photo: Getty
Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho. Photo: Getty

Timothy Abraham

Jurgen Klopp insists Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can have shown no signs of being distracted even though speculation over their respective futures is set to be reignited ahead of the transfer window opening in January.

Coutinho has long been linked with a move to Barcelona, and reports in Spain indicate the Catalan club will test Liverpool’s resolve with a fresh approach having failed to persuade the Reds to sell during the summer.

Klopp had "nothing to say" on the manner of Barcelona's pursuit of Coutinho, when offered the chance to criticise it because he "doesn't comment on transfer rumours". Can, meanwhile, is out of contract at the end of the season and the Germany midfielder is free to talk to clubs next month with Italian side Juventus understood to be keen to sign him.

However, Klopp remains confident the pair will be fully focused on Liverpool's fixtures over the festive period, starting with Friday's Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates.

“Neither Emre nor Phil gave me one second the impression that they are not interested in what we are doing here,” Klopp said. “And that is all I care about until the moment we have to make a decision. That’s all. So far both these two did really well.

“They are completely in the team and they will be until it is not like this anymore and when this will be I have no clue. As long as nobody comes to me and says he’s gone or has signed a new contract. It’s all about the behaviour of the players. I work with them all day.

“If we want to sell a player we don’t go every day to him and tell him. We want to keep him in best shape until the day and when the situation is there we will tell him. So day by day it has no influence as long as the players are fine.”

Klopp also claims Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goalscoring threat has improved at Liverpool after that aspect of his game was largely ignored by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line to face his former club having started to rebuild his career on Merseyside following a £35m move in August. The England international managed just 20 goals in 198 appearances in all competitions during six years with the Gunners.

It is an area Klopp felt the 24-year-old could rectify and Liverpool’s coaching staff have worked hard with him at the club’s Melwood training base.

It is yet to fully come to fruition, with Oxlade-Chamberlain having netted two goals in 20 appearances for Liverpool so far, although he has looked distinctly more confident with his attacking play in recent weeks.

And Oxlade-Chamberlain will continue to work on a part of his game which the German thinks was undervalued at Arsenal.

“I think the biggest improvement and potential (with Oxlade-Chamberlain) is being involved in goalscoring situations,” Klopp explained. “It is unbelievable but he was not asked for this too much in the past. If you watch Arsenal in the past the past their two decisive players were Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

“Here we put it on more shoulders, much more shoulders. If he is on the pitch he needs to be involved in these situations.”

Klopp has not given Oxlade-Chamberlain any goal targets for this season, but believes the player’s attributes are such that he will inevitably bolster his output in front of goal.

“For all the qualities he has, his goalscoring record can improve,” Klopp added. “It’s not that I can give him a number and say he has to score 15 times a season. He has the obvious skills- shooting, both feet, speed. Where’s the limit? I don’t know. It’s something we know he will be better at in the future

“That’s why I said players always can improve and that’s the obvious thing where Oxlade can improve. It's not a criticism and if it were, I would have told him already. It’s just obvious potential which is there and we will work on it.

“His main skills are offensive, that’s true. He is such an athlete and that’s all good. He is still a young player. It’s unbelievable but he has ten or twelve years yet to come in his career.”

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