Coutinho’s huge task
Brazilian faces tough job of winning back hearts at Liverpool
Liverpool will this week begin the task of reintegrating Philippe Coutinho into their squad as the fallout from Barcelona’s failed bid to sign the midfielder threatens to further destabilise his position at Anfield.
On Saturday the Brazilian was officially named in Liverpool’s 25-man Premier League squad for the rest of the season and is expected back, probably on Thursday, after Brazil’s World Cup qualifier in Colombia.
Although the 25-year-old has not spoken publicly after failing to secure his desired move, Neymar said his Brazilian team mate was feeling “disappointment and sadness”.
Although Coutinho was keen, handing in a transfer request after developing a back injury that pre- vented him playing for Liverpool but not Brazil, his failure to force an exit has left him in an unexpected limbo.
In theory he will be available for Liverpool’s next game at Manchester City on Saturday, but without him Juergen Klopp’s side have impressed and he is unlikely to go straight into the team, particularly so soon after traveling back from South America.
A further complication involves his dealings with Klopp. The German never publicly criticised Coutinho - or questioned the legitimacy of his injury - but will be aware of the unnamed ‘family friend’ who was widely quoted in media reports as saying their relationship had fractured.
Klopp always insisted that the decision not to sell Coutinho was taken by the owners, Fenway Sports Group, and there is clear anger at Liverpool at the way Barcelona conducted themselves over the affair.
Liverpool insist that Saturday’s claim by director Albert Soler that the club offered to sell Coutinho for €200m (Sh24.4bn) is false. They say that Barcelona were consistently told the player was not for sale at any price.
Whatever happens with Klopp, Coutinho will face a struggle to restore his reputation among supporters, with large numbers taking to social media to express their unhappiness about a player who earlier this year signed a new five-year deal with the words: “I signed this new contract to stay here for a few more years because it’s a great honour for me.”
COUTINHO WILL FACE A STRUGGLE TO RESTORE HIS REPUTATION AMONG SUPPORTERS
Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho celebrates during a past match