Belfast Telegraph

Coutinho never crossed a line in transfer stand-off, says Klopp

Philippe Coutinho will not feature for Liverpool against Manchester City this weekend but manager Jurgen Klopp says the Brazilian did nothing "unforgivable" during Barcelona's pursuit of him.

Klopp does not feel the playmaker is fit enough to be included in the Reds squad for the short trip to the Etihad Stadium.

It is almost a month since Coutinho handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Barcelona, who had three bids rejected over the summer after Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group insisted the 25-year-old was not for sale.

He has not yet played a match for the Reds because of a reported back injury but played 47 minutes in two substitute appearances for the national team, scoring a trademark goal against Ecuador.

But that has not been enough to prove his fitness to Klopp, who stressed that fitness was the only reason why the 25-year-old would not be lining up at the Etihad.

"I can explain it a little - maybe a few of you have had a split in a good relationship, with your wife or whatever, and it is not good to think about the time you were split," said Klopp.

"It was not the most easy time, but that is the transfer window. It is not the first time and it won't be the last time in history when similar things will happen.

"I really think we handled it really well. Not all the things in newspapers were 100 per cent right but it is normal a lot of things were coming up in a situation like this.

"But nothing I am aware of was unforgivable. The most important thing is no one told me anything where I thought 'Oh, that is too much'.

"He came in yesterday, accepted 100 per cent the situation - I didn't even have to say anything about it."

Coutinho returned to the club's Melwood training ground on Thursday after flying home from South America in a private jet with club-mate Roberto Firmino, Manchester City trio Ederson, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus and Chelsea's Willian.

He spoke briefly with Klopp, when the manager told him he did not think it was worth the risk of playing him against City when he was not fit enough, and then trained for 90 minutes.

Klopp praised the Brazilian's attitude after numerous claims from within his camp, including suggestions he could refuse to play for the club again, about what he would do to force a move to Barcelona.

"We had a very good talk, he was in a very good mood and training was even better," he added.

"But I had to make the decision. We have seven games in the next three weeks, so there will not be the time to train.

"Before he went to Brazil he couldn't train for about three weeks so that means we need to try to prepare him for the rest of the season and that is quite difficult with our schedule.

"So I decided to leave him out of the squad for City so we can use these four or five days for proper training.

"He could have played 15-20 minutes in the City game, maybe longer, but I think it makes sense (to leave him out).

"He agreed completely. It was not as if he said 'No, I don't need training, I want to play'. It was a good conversation.

"You have to go through these times and things can be good if you are smart enough to start again.

"I said yesterday in the dressing room 'Boys, welcome two new players: Alex (deadline-day signing Oxlade-Chamberlain) and Phil'."

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