Philippe Coutinho go­ing nowhere: Liverpool

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Liverpool in­sisted on Fri­day that Philippe Coutinho would not be sold at any price amid re­ports the Brazil star has sub­mit­ted a trans­fer re­quest in a bid to force a move to Barcelona.

Coutinho is Barcelona’s top tar­get to re­place Ney­mar fol­low­ing the striker’s world record move to Paris Sain­tGer­main. Af­ter hav­ing two pre­vi­ous of­fers re­jected, the Span­ish club are be­lieved to have in­creased their bid for the Liverpool for­ward to £90 mil­lion ($117 mil­lion, 99 mil­lion eu­ros).

Liverpool are de­ter­mined to hang onto Coutinho no matter what of­fer Barca make, but the 25-year-old is keen to move to the Camp Nou and re­ports on Fri­day claimed he tried to push his club into let­ting him leave by send­ing an email con­tain­ing the of­fi­cial trans­fer re­quest. Coutinho’s de­mand is be­lieved to have been re­jected by Liverpool, who only hours ear­lier had gone public with their in­tent to keep the play­maker at all costs. A state­ment is­sued by Fen­way Sports Group, Liverpool’s US-based own­ers, said: “We wish to of­fer clar­ity as re­gards our po­si­tion on a pos­si­ble trans­fer of Philippe Coutinho.

“The club’s de­fin­i­tive stance is that no of­fers for Philippe will be con­sid­ered and he will re­main a mem­ber of Liverpool Foot­ball Club when the sum­mer (trans­fer) win­dow closes.” FSG’s state­ment was an en­dorse­ment of Liverpool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp’s pre­vi­ous com­ments that Coutinho was not go­ing any­where. And the Ger­man boss, speak­ing at his pre-match press con­fer­ence ahead of Liverpool’s 2017/18 Premier League sea­son opener away to Watford on Satur­day, said: “I think if some­body, in this case FSG, is say­ing some­thing like this it is the state­ment.

“I think I have said it al­ready a few times, but maybe that’s not 100 per­cent clear.” Liverpool launched their PR of­fen­sive at the same time as Sky Sports News re­ported a mem­ber of Coutinho’s fam­ily had re­leased a state­ment stat­ing the player’s case. “Philippe has tried very hard to find an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion to this sit­u­a­tion but to no avail,” the state­ment read. “He has tremen­dous love for the club and its fans but, like Steven Ger­rard and Luis Suarez have pointed out in the past, Liverpool does not let its play­ers leave on am­i­ca­ble terms.”

Coutinho, who joined Liverpool from In­ter Milan for £8.5 mil­lion in 2013, signed a new five-year con­tract with the north­west side in Jan­uary that did not in­clude a buy-out clause.

Barcelona want Coutinho to re­place Ney­mar fol­low­ing his com­pa­triot’s 222 mil­lion-euro trans­fer to PSG last week.

They had two pre­vi­ous bids re­jected by the Premier League side but could yet come back with an of­fer in ex­cess of £100 mil­lion. Barca be­lieve Coutinho can step in for Ney­mar along­side Lionel Messi and former Liverpool favourite Luis Suarez in a star-stud­ded front three, and could also pro­vide cover for 33year-old An­dres Ini­esta in mid­field.

Coutinho out of Watford opener

Al­though five-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, most re­cently in 2005, the last of Liverpool’s 18 English league ti­tles came in 1990 — be­fore the start of the Premier League era.

Klopp, how­ever, is de­ter­mined to show he is se­ri­ous about bring­ing back the glory days to An­field by re­tain­ing Coutinho, Liverpool’s top scorer with 14 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son when the Merseysiders fin­ished fourth.

But Coutinho will be miss­ing from the Watford match with a back prob­lem that could also rule him out of the first leg of the Cham­pi­ons League play-off away to Ger­man club Hof­fen­heim on Tues­day. Asked if Coutinho would play at Vicarage Road on Satur­day, Klopp replied: “No, he has back prob­lems. He was not in train­ing since last Fri­day. No he is not avail­able, he is also a doubt for Tues­day, un­for­tu­nately.”

Ques­tioned on whether his job now was to keep Coutinho happy, Klopp added: “I can’t keep play­ers happy. That’s how life is. “It’s not about this, Phil is not avail­able for us, that’s the big­gest is­sue that he’s not avail­able to play.”—AFP

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