Klopp in no rush to call upon Coutinho’s ser­vices

Manch­ester City v Liver­pool Eti­had Sta­dium, 12.30pm Sky Sports Main

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL WIL­SON and JAMIE JACK­SON

“Only the game, yes?” Jür­gen Klopp teased, all mock earnest­ness be­fore Liver­pool’s visit to the Eti­had. “The trans­fer win­dow is now closed and Philippe Coutinho is still with us, so the only thing to talk about must be Manch­ester City.”

Fat chance. The Liver­pool man­ager would have been en­ti­tled to do a lap of hon­our of the Mel­wood press room after keep­ing Coutinho out of Barcelona’s clutches and pinch­ing Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain from un­der Chelsea’s noses, yet per­haps his great­est source of pride is that Liver­pool can go to Manch­ester with­out feel­ing the need to rush ei­ther of his “two new play­ers” into ac­tion.

“Philippe loves foot­ball and he still loves this club,” Klopp said. “We could have put him in the squad to play at City but we both agreed it was prob­a­bly bet­ter to wait and do a few more full in­ten­sity train­ing ses­sions.

“The same ap­plies to Alex. He has only had time for one full ses­sion with us and ob­vi­ously we play in a dif­fer­ent way to what he has been used to at Ar­se­nal.”

Klopp is likely to name a sim­i­lar team at City to the one that beat Ar­se­nal a fort­night ago, though he knows some­one will have to make way for Coutinho at some point and does not see any prob­lem with re­sent­ment within the dress­ing room.

“Most of them have been friends for sev­eral years and of course ev­ery­one un­der­stands that if a club like Barcelona is around then things are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” he said. “No­body is go­ing to say: ‘Are you crazy, what do you want to go there for?’ Ev­ery­one un­der­stands the sit­u­a­tion. It’s not like he wanted to go to Ever­ton.”

Liver­pool might have missed out on Vir­gil van Dijk but Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain was not the only trans­fer coup of the sum­mer. Naby Keïta’s fu­ture was set­tled too, even if the mid­fielder will only be ar­riv­ing after a fur­ther sea­son with Leipzig.

Liver­pool man­aged to se­cure the ser­vices of a 22-year-old re­garded as one of the best play­ers in the Bun­desliga

“All the play­ers we were al­lowed to speak to were re­ally pos­i­tive about join­ing the club and it is more about the project than the Cham­pi­ons League,” he said. “Naby, for ex­am­ple, has no idea whether or not we play Cham­pi­ons League next year.”

Pep Guardi­ola has said he was un­able to buy Jonny Evans be­cause Manch­ester City could not af­ford West Bromwich Al­bion’s ask­ing price of around ¤27 mil­lion. The man­ager’s fail­ure to strengthen at cen­tre-back has been quickly ex­posed by Vin­cent Kom­pany’s calf in­jury be­fore the visit of Liver­pool.

Kom­pany has been ruled out with a re­cur­rence of a prob­lem that has plagued the cap­tain in re­cent sea­sons.

Philippe Coutinho: not in the Liver­pool squad for the visit to Manch­ester City

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