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Liverpool turn down Barca’s €130m offer for Coutinho

Lack of time to find replacement at root of Klopp’s desire not to sell Brazilian

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has vowed not to sell Philippe Coutinho Photo: Getty
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has vowed not to sell Philippe Coutinho Photo: Getty

Jason Burt

Liverpool have flatly rejected a third bid worth an extraordinary £118.7 million (€130m) from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho who has again urged the club to sell him.

Prior to Neymar’s £198m (€220m) move to Paris Saint-Germain, which sparked Barcelona’s scramble to sign Coutinho, it would have represented a new world-record fee.

The new bid was tabled yesterday morning with Liverpool, as expected, turning it down immediately and insisting that there was no need for any talks over the player’s future. The club are adamant their stance will not change and the matter is closed as far as they are concerned.

Nevertheless, sources close to the deal insist that Barcelona will not give up on trying to sign the Brazilian, although they are running out of time and may have to look at alternatives.

“No one is going to budge,” a source maintained. It remains to be seen what happens next and whether Barcelona are willing to go even higher or possibly re-structure the payments to make the guaranteed minimum higher.

Even then it appears that Liverpool are adamant that Coutinho will not be sold, with club owners Fenway Sports Group having released a statement a week ago saying their “definitive stance” is that all offers will be turned down in this transfer window.

Jurgen Klopp added that the fee was immaterial given Liverpool do not have enough time to replace Coutinho in this window even though he has told the manager he wants to go. Coutinho is currently out with a back injury, sustained in the Audi Cup in Munich earlier this month.

He will miss today’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace and is expected to also not be considered for next Wednesday’s Champions League play-off second leg, also at home, against Hoffenheim. After that, Liverpool only have one more game, at home to Arsenal next Sunday, before the window closes.

The 25-year-old submitted a formal transfer request last Friday after Liverpool rejected Barcelona’s second bid of £90m (€99m) which followed an initial offer of £72m (€79m) in the wake of Neymar’s departure.

Barcelona are also still trying to sign French international forward Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for a package of up to £90m (€99m) but the German club are also determined not to sell.

Coutinho, according to friends, regards the chance to move to Barcelona as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and also believes that the Spanish giants have made Liverpool a good offer and that he has been a loyal servant to the club. He wants to leave on good terms and is not expected to make public statements demanding he be allowed to go.

Coutinho signed a new five-and-a-half year contract in January without a release clause as a sign of how happy he was at the club, although everyone at Liverpool was aware that could change if Barcelona came calling. Their interest in Coutinho is long-standing.

Dispute

The latest bid amounts to £118.7m  (€130m) although there was some dispute – depending on which parties involved are consulted – as to the make-up of the offer. It appears Barcelona are offering a guaranteed minimum payment of under £100m  (€110m) and it could be significantly below that, with some claiming it is just £82.2m (€90m).

Although Liverpool’s stance should not be doubted, the episode has turned into a distracting saga for the club in a summer in which they have been frustrated in their own attempts to sign players, with Southampton declaring they will not sell defender Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig refusing to budge on midfielder Naby Keita.

Liverpool have also received an approach from West Brom to sign their defender Mamadou Sakho, although it appears the French international would prefer to return to Palace – where he spent the second half of last season on loan.

Klopp conceded that neither Liverpool – who drew 3-3 away to Watford – nor Palace – who lost 3-0 at home to newly-promoted Huddersfield Town, who are managed by Klopp’s friend David Wagner – will have been happy with the outcome of their opening league fixtures of the season.

“They (Palace) want to strike back I’m sure but again it’s Anfield and we have to show this,” Klopp said.

Liverpool v Crystal Palace, live, Sky Sports, 3.0

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