Belfast Telegraph

Coutinho is turning his back on Liverpool as Van Dijk could be set for FA Cup derby debut

 

By Robert Jones

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has refused to be drawn on the future of Philippe Coutinho as speculation about another bid from Barcelona escalates.

Coutinho is currently sidelined with a thigh strain, which has ruled him out of tonight's FA Cup Merseyside derby at home to Everton.

However, the Reds boss expects the Brazil international to be available to face Premier League leaders Manchester City on January 14.

Liverpool turned down three bids from Barcelona in August - the final one was £118million, which comprised add-ons totalling over £30million - and that Coutinho handed in a transfer request, which was also rejected.

At the time, the club's principal owner John W Henry publicly stated that Liverpool would not sell the Brazilian. There has been no such declaration so far this winter, and a bid has yet to materialise from Catalonia despite increased speculation of another move for the playmaker.

Reports have also suggested Coutinho believes he has played his final match for the club.

Despite another injury to Coutinho coinciding with the opening of the transfer window - the Brazilian missed the whole of August with a back problem - Klopp is already looking towards the City game to bring him back.

"I think he is in a bunch of available players for the City game on January 14," said Klopp.

"All the things I could say now will only create stories. I have nothing to say about it.

"I opened the door halfway because I mentioned it was the transfer window, but there is nothing I can say about it which would help me, the player or the club."

Asked whether he had to consider the possibility of having to replace Coutinho this month, Klopp added: "Whatever you can consider it is not my cup of tea.

"I really have nothing to say. Maybe 80 per cent of the cameras are here for these answers - that's a waste of time then."

Both Coutinho and top scorer Mohamed Salah (groin) will miss the visit of Everton, but the match could see a debut for £75million signing Virgil van Dijk.

The Holland international completed his move from Southampton on January 1 but Klopp is in no rush to send out the world's most expensive defender.

"Mo and Phil are not available so it is not possible. With Virgil it is different, he is obviously healthy and I have to make a decision for this game," said Klopp. "I can imagine everyone is desperate to see him on the pitch, but from our point of view there is no rush, and it is much more important how many good games he can play for us."

Loris Karius will start in goal with Simon Mignolet given the weekend off as third-choice Danny Ward will be on the bench.

The Wales international spent a successful season on loan at Huddersfield last year but has been restricted to one appearance in the Carabao Cup defeat at Leicester back in September.

That does not mean he - or any of his under-used team-mates - are primed for loans this month.

"Loris will play. I am pretty sure Wardy is sub, which means Simon has a little break," said Klopp.

"Danny is a young, very skilled goalkeeper with a lot of potential, which means space for improvement, and we are quite desperate to build on that together with him.

"There is enough to do for all of the boys, so there is no rush in that, and we cannot help other clubs before we help ourselves."

Meanwhile, Everton boss Sam Allardyce has revealed the club are close to sealing a deal for Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun.

Allardyce said yesterday that talks over personal terms are advanced and that the frontman, who is valued at £27million, could even be registered in time for tonight's derby.

He said: "Personal terms are at the final stage. That might happen and we might get him registered for the cup.

"After some long negotiations we have got to that stage now, so that might happen and he might even be getting registered before the cup if we're lucky, but there's a medical to go through so it might be tight.

"Securing the player is the most important thing because it is our biggest area of concern with the goals we are capable of getting. On his track record, his age and his ability hopefully that is the case."

As long suspected, however, the future of Ross Barkley is destined to be away from the club.

The England international rejected a new contract last year, and a move to Chelsea collapsed at the last minute in August, but Allardyce expects further movement this month.

"I think the club was resigned before I got here that they were going to lose Ross, so I can't see that changing," he said.

"I would expect there would be (contact) some time in this window if there is going to be any interest from any of the big boys," he added.

Forwards Kevin Mirallas and Sandro Ramirez are also likely departures in January.

"If anyone is going to leave it would have to be the right fee for us and we could use that money somewhere else to strengthen our squad," said Allardyce.

Liverpool

Everton

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Anfield, Tonight, 7:55pm

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