Belfast Telegraph

Klopp insists Countinho going nowhere as Catalan giants hover on sidelines

By Samuel Lovett

Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Philippe Coutinho remains "comfortable" at Liverpool amid heightened interest from Barcelona.

Liverpool rejected the Catalans' recent £72m bid for the Brazilian, who signed a five-year contract with no release clause last January, as they look to hold onto their prized possession ahead of the new season.

Klopp made it clear in the wake of Barcelona's approach that the 25-year-old is not for sale and, speaking after Liverpool's 2-1 victory over Leicester in the Premier League Asia Trophy final, the German reiterated his stance that Coutinho will not be leaving for Spain.

"Everyone knows that Phil Coutinho is a key player for us," he said. "I know that he feels completely more than fine, comfortable - whatever - in Liverpool. He loves the club.

"That he's able to arrive tonight in a very difficult moment of the pre-season after all these sessions is good to see. That shows his big potential."

Klopp was then asked whether he had spoken to the 25-year-old about his future at Anfield.

"Yes," he responded. "But it's not for you."

Coutinho's worth was clear to see on Saturday as Liverpool fought back from a goal behind to beat Leicester 2-1 at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The Brazilian provided Mohamed Salah with the assist for Liverpool's equaliser, after Islam Slimani had put Craig Shakespeare's side ahead, and snatched the winner with a curling strike moments before the break.

Klopp also expressed his anger with the referee's handling of the match after Coutinho was subject to two hard challenges, neither of which were punished with a card.

The German was cautioned for his touchline protestations during the game and warned he would be sent to the stand if he continued.

"Even in the pre-season and even though it's a Premier League tournament, we should talk about this," he said. "I was not too happy about two decisions around Phil Coutinho, 100%.

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