Coutinho can go if owners say so, admits Klopp
WATFORD, England — Jurgen Klopp said Philippe Coutinho’s Liverpool future will be determined by the Anfield club’s owners as Barcelona bids to land the wantaway Brazil star.
Coutinho is keen to join Barca and the Reds forward submitted a transfer request 24 hours before Liverpool opened its Premier League campaign with a 3-3 draw at Watford on Saturday.
The 25-year-old, who missed the trip to Vicarage Road with a back problem, is Barcelona’s top target to replace Neymar following the Brazilian superstar’s worldrecord switch to Paris SaintGermain.
Barca had a $116 million bid for Coutinho rejected last week, prompting the player’s decision to demand a move.
But Liverpool’s US-based owners, Fenway Sports Group, insisted in a statement last Friday that Coutinho will not be allowed to leave Anfield at any price.
Quizzed about the situation following the Watford match, Reds boss Klopp admitted Coutinho’s future is out of his hands.
“As a manager of a football club I have bosses, and if bosses decide, for example, we sell a player or we don’t sell him, then I have to accept it,” Klopp said.
“If they don’t sell him, then I’m not involved anymore.
“I’m responsible for all of my players, not just one, two or three. I cannot say anything about it.
“The only thing is I work with the players I have, that is what I’m always doing. So how does it change something for me? I didn’t make the decision.”
Asked if Coutinho’s transfer request could alter the club’s stance, Klopp added: “You have to ask the club. I didn’t see the club today — those
Stefano Okaka had given Watford an eighth-minute lead and Abdoulaye Doucoure restored the home side’s advantage a minute after Sadio Mane’s 27th-minute equalizer.
Roberto Firmino’s penalty and a debut goal from Mohamed Salah put Liverpool
Klopp was pleased with Salah’s second-half display following the Egypt winger’s club-record $44-million move from Roma.
“He was involved in the penalty, and scored a goal,” Klopp said. “In the beginning everyone could see he struggled a bit against Jose Holebas, a really strong man. He was a little bit too much on the wing, things like this.
“We spoke about it at halftime and his second half was much better.
“We need offense in behind with the speed, not all the time but if we can do it in another space then it’s easier for us to play football there. So, yes, I am fine with his contribution.”
Klopp was less impressed with Liverpool’s defending at set-pieces that led to two of Watford’s goals.
“We had our moments, then we conceded an offside goal,” he said.
“That’s really not fun. Difficult to accept. But we know we can do better and we have to do better.”
Watford manager Marco Silva introduced new signing Andre Gray from the bench and said there is more to come from the former Burnley forward.
“Andre Gray did only two sessions with me and he did not know very well what I wanted from him,” Silva said.
“He is on the bench because we work the last five or six weeks to prepare for this match.”
Jurgen Klopp waves to fans after the Reds’ 3-3 Premier League draw at Watford on Saturday.