Wednesday 13 December 2017

Jurgen Klopp pours scorn on FFP over Neymar deal and remains adamant that Philippe Coutinho will not go to Barca

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has poured scorn on Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules as little more than a ‘suggestion' over Neymar’s £198 million move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Klopp is bemused the astronomical figures involved in the deal are allowed given the intention to curb the excessive spending power of the world’s wealthiest clubs. He said he hopes it does not start a trend of similar deals.

“There are clubs that can pay fees like that – Manchester City and PSG. Everyone knows that,” said Klopp.

“I thought Fair Play was made so that situations like that can't happen. That's more of a suggestion than a real rule. I don't understand that. I don't know how it happens.

“That's not the next step I hope. I think and hope it will stay an exception but we don't know.”

Liverpool remain unmoved by the potential ramifications of Neymar’s colossal move from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain as they vow to keep Philippe Coutinho.

Klopp has tried to shut down any hint his club are willing to negotiate Coutinho’s future, and has become increasingly exasperated by the persistent questioning on the matter.

“It’s nice that Coutinho is so highly rated but they can save their energy,” was Klopp’s message to Barcelona when quizzed on a potential new bid during Liverpool’s German tour.

“I cannot talk about this just because a Barcelona guy starts talking. Did he say they are coming to Liverpool to do business? They want to come over? They are funny. I don’t want things like this.”

With Neymar on the verge of a £198 million-move to Paris, Barca will inevitably seek a high-profile replacement and their early bid of £72m for Coutinho demonstrates their determination.

But Liverpool said at the time they were not going to enter any negotiations. The fee is not the issue, but the fact Coutinho is fundamental to Klopp’s plans. The Anfield club already have plenty of money to spend – their biggest issue this summer has been recruiting their own top targets – so a significant increase on the first offer is an irrelevance to Klopp and owners Fenway Sports Group.

They recognise replacing a player of Coutinho’s class, and one so familiar with Klopp’s style of play and the system he has been fine-tuning during pre-season, would be virtually impossible before the start of the season.

Even more significantly, Liverpool’s most important game is in less than two weeks, when they play a Champions League qualifier – a match which could be worth around £30m should the club progress to the group stages.

Liverpool are seeking to re-establish their position as permanent contenders in Europe’s elite club competition, so selling their prized asset and jeopardising such plans could have an incalculable cost.

Klopp has already informed Coutinho of his and Liverpool’s decision, and there has been no suggestion so far the player would try to force a rethink.

Indeed, Coutinho’s conduct and professionalism has been exemplary, regardless of whether privately he would be excited by the prospect of reuniting with his former Liverpool team-mate, Luis Suarez, at the Nou Camp.

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