Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool's owners rule out sale of Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool's owners have ruled out accepting any bids for playmaker Philippe Coutinho, seemingly ending the prospect of a move to Barcelona.

The Catalans are understood to have had two bids turned down for the Brazil international, the second in the region of £90million.

But in a statement, owners Fenway Sports Group backed up manager Jurgen Klopp's public stance by saying: "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."

Klopp, speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool's Premier League opener at Watford on Saturday, again reiterated his stance but remained coy about his private talks with the Brazilian.

"I think if somebody, in this case FSG, is saying something like this it is the statement," said the German. "I think I have said it already a few times, but maybe that's not 100 per cent clear.

"I don't think I ever told you anything about what I spoke to players (about). I turned 50 in the summer, so maybe I forget things like this. I have nothing to say about this."

Barca have plenty of money to spend, having sold Coutinho's compatriot Neymar to Paris St Germain for a world-record £200.6m last week.

Coutinho, who joined Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5m in 2013, signed a new five-year deal with the Merseyside outfit in January that did not include a buy-out clause.

The 25-year-old was their leading scorer with 14 goals in all competitions last term, a season that saw Klopp's men secure a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League.

He will not be available to face the Hornets this weekend, however, and is a doubt for the first leg of the Champions League qualifying play-off against Hoffenheim on Tuesday, after failing to recover from a back injury.

Asked if Coutinho would be involved on Saturday, Klopp said: "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."

When asked if his job was now 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."

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