Klopp reveals ‘really good conversation’ with Coutinho, who is unlikely to play against Man City

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed he engaged in a “really good conversation” with Philippe Coutinho, but the player is not expected to be considered against Manchester City.

The 25-year-old, who tried and failed to manoeuvre a switch to Barcelona this summer, reported for training at Melwood on Thursday after returning from international duty.

Liverpool 16/5 to beat City

It was the first time he was involved in a full session since the club’s pre-season camp in Munich, where he complained of back pain ahead of final friendly against Athletic Bilbao.

That injury, which sidelined the playmaker for all five of the club’s fixtures this season, subsided while he represented Brazil, with their team doctors saying the problem was more to do with the stress over his situation.

“I know what people think, but Phil had the back problem a few weeks ago and couldn’t train so that means he missed around about three weeks,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.

“Yes, he went to the national team and trained normally, but now we have to prepare for a normal season so we have seven games [before the next international break] and we saw training this morning and thought ‘OK, maybe we should use him immediately’ because he was really good, but that doesn’t make sense. 

HD Phil Coutinho Jurgen Klopp

“We have now to continue with the pre-season, not too long, but in a few sessions we have to give ourselves the time because in the next month we have seven games. 

“We always have the same decision to make, ‘does he need training or can he play?’ and all that stuff. Yes, he will now do a little bit more than the other boys but he showed up in a very, very good mood and looks really promising.”

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Klopp confirmed that he has held fresh talks with Coutinho, who has scored in four of his six league matches against City.

“Of course – all good, all good. Nothing else to say, actually, so he’s back and we had a really good conversation, so good,” the Reds boss added.

Coutinho had submitted a transfer request to leave Anfield, but Liverpool were resolute in their definitive stance that he would not be sold in the transfer window just past, rejecting three offers bloated by add-ons from Barca.


What next for Coutinho & Liverpool? A lesson from the Luis Suarez saga


On deadline day in the off-season three years ago, the “definitive stance” Liverpool stuck to with Philippe Coutinho in the transfer window just past was already one of the scenarios fighting for space in Steven Gerrard’s head.

Coutinho 9/1 for last goal Saturday

Still in possession of the captaincy, and having a quieter summer than the previous one, in which he had spent months trying to persuade Luis Suarez not to agitate for an Anfield exit just yet, the Reds’ skipper was visited by the Uruguayan at Melwood.

HD Phil Coutinho

The forward had sealed a £65 million move to Barcelona in July 2014, but returned to the training complex on September 1 to say his goodbyes to his old team-mates.

Seated in the same recreational area where a year earlier Gerrard convinced Suarez he’d be better served by rejecting a move to Arsenal and staying at Liverpool for another season before moving to Catalunya, it was the attacker’s turn to share some advice.

“Before he left Melwood for ever that day, Luis spoke to me about Philippe Coutinho,” Gerrard details in My Story. “Make sure you look after him. He’s a good kid.”

Those words underlined what the former England international already knew: the Brazilian could morph into Liverpool’s “leading player” and “Barcelona and Real Madrid will come looking for Philippe in a few more seasons, just like they did with Luis.”

Steven Gerrard Phil Coutinho

Gerrard had already paid special attention to Coutinho and, if unavailable for selection for a lengthy period, he would text the playmaker before and after games, as he knew the Reds “needed to keep hold of him as long as possible.”

Despite Barca’s quite public and intense two-and-a-half month push to sign the 25-year-old this summer, Liverpool have managed to do exactly that – even though Coutinho back-heeled the amicable route in-between to submit a transfer request.

But what now?

In what can only be described as ‘that awkward moment’, Coutinho returns from Brazil duty via private plane having miraculously recovered from the pain in his lumbar spine that ruled him out of Liverpool’s opening five fixtures of the 2017-18 season.

Phil Coutinho Brazil

Where he was once core, he will now have to stretch his back to show he deserves to be part of the fold. The Merseysiders do have experience of dealing with this kind of reintegration, though, having refused to sell Suarez in the summer of 2013, and while no two players or situations are exactly alike, the successes of that episode can be revisited.

Despite Brendan Rodgers and the striker not speaking properly until October of that year, the club was put first, with pride and egos pushed aside. Keeping Suarez was central to Liverpool achieving their ambitions for the campaign, so once an exile from training with the first team – penance for publicly accusing the manager and owners Fenway Sports Group of breaking promises while pushing for an exit –  was lifted, it was straight back to business.

There was no PR-driven apology, no sulking, no circus – the Salto-born phenom went full tilt in sessions and said sorry for his antagonist behaviour through exceptional performances on the pitch.

GFX Suarez quote Liverpool

The big conversation between Rodgers and Suarez only happened in October, which “more or less drew a line under the whole affair”, the forward noted in Crossing the Line.

“There was a sense of forgetting everything that happened and concentrating on working together for the good of Liverpool.”

The state of play was simple: if Suarez showed commitment to the club, they would in turn reward him with a new contract that had a clear release clause and wave him off with good wishes if a ‘mega club’ wanted his services.

In December, he inked fresh terms with Liverpool, went on to be crowned the PFA Players’ Player of the Year before securing the move to Camp Nou he had coveted since his teens.

Coutinho, who counts Suarez as an older brother of sorts, can use this template to revive his reputation on Merseyside and leave in the right way when the time is right.

Apologies can be questioned, debated, pulled apart – brilliant displays cannot.

HD Phil Coutinho

There is nothing the Brazil star can say to erase what has happened over the last month, but he can make it no more than background noise by being willing to and going above and beyond to orchestrate Liverpool’s play again.

Having not trained with his team-mates since the pre-season camp in Munich and given the impressive nature of their last two performances, Coutinho will rightly not immediately command a place in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI, as he works to convince the manager as well as the dressing room that he is focused and fully dedicated to their cause.

Supporters will sing O Magico’s name again if they are also sure of the above.

There is no room for fuss, for circling round the saga or for strops. Liverpool are better with Coutinho and they have made him better.

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Their relationship status may be complicated, but the best way forward is far from complex: forget everything that happened and concentrate on working together for the good of the club.


Ronaldinho reassures Liverpool fans over Coutinho: He’ll give everything

Brazil legend Ronaldinho believes Philippe Coutinho will continue to give his all for Liverpool, despite a summer move to Barcelona breaking down.

Coutinho 23/10 to score Saturday

Barca claimed Liverpool were asking for €200 million for the attacker after seeing repeated bids knocked back as they sought a replacement for Neymar, who moved to PSG in a €222m deal.

Coutinho, 25, tried to aid the Catalans by going on strike, sparking fears about his attitude this season, but Ronaldinho says supporters should rest easy.

“This season they will see him give everything for the club – that is the sort of player he is,” he is quoted as having said by the Daily Mirror.

“Also, no player is going to refuse to play when it’s the World Cup at the end of the season.

“The Liverpool fans have nothing to worry about – I do not believe any of the stories about him refusing to play for the club. I know him that is not his way.”

Meanwhile, Coutinho has not seen his opportunity to move to Camp Nou ended, according to a man who spent five years as a player there.

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“They made it clear how much they wanted him and I am sure that they will come back for him.”


Wenger calls for closing January window among transfer system changes

Arsene Wenger believes the January transfer window should be eliminated to stop the distraction of players looking for midseason exits.

The Arsenal manager saw his club close out a chaotic summer transfer window with talk of a deal for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar and a sale of Alexis Sanchez both fall through on deadline day.

Gunners 17/2 to fail to score v Bournemouth

Sanchez was reportedly unhappy by his inability to move to Manchester City, with the Gunners’ Premier League rivals possibility returning in January for a new bid.

Elsewhere, talk remains Barcelona will renew their approach in January for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

And Wenger believes such situations are detrimental to the game, believing players become distracted for a January move as early as October.

“The players who do not play or the players who are tapped up in October they already start again to think where do I go in January,” Wenger told beIN Sports. “That’s not the way to be onboard with the football club.

“We are here to entertain people and you can do that with people who are really on board together, to achieve something together and not every minute that it doesn’t go well to think ‘where can I go next?’

“I believe that we have to bring some decency. We all complain today that it (the sport) has become too much business, but we can do something about it. We have that responsibility in the game.”

Arsene Wenger Arsenal Leicester City Premier League

The January window was not alone in drawing Wenger’s ire, as he lamented the process of players attempting to sort out transfer situations while prepararing for games.

That exact situation occurred for both Lemar and Sanchez, who were rumoured to be in deadline talks while both featured for their national teams in World Cup qualifying.

“You cannot have a player preparing for a football game, that is today vital because nobody accepts anymore to lose a football game, and still be at four o’clock on the phone ‘Do I go or not?’, ‘How much is it?’ ‘Do I have to go?’ It’s impossible.

“These boys are all under high pressure, well-paid. You want them at least have a normal preparation for a football game.”

Wenger’s solution would be to close the window before the start of the season and not have it re-open until the conclusion of the campaign.

“The ideal situation would be to have a transfer period that is closed 48 hours before the first game of the championship and to close it completely until after the season.”

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Wenger and Arsenal are next in action Saturday against Bournemouth.


Coutinho fit to play 90 minutes, says Tite

Brazil coach Tite believes Philippe Coutinho is fit enough to perform for 90 minutes, but says he will not start the Liverpool star against Colombia due to his lack of action this season.

Coutinho came off the bench to score in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday — his first game of a campaign in which reported back injuries and illness have kept him out of Jurgen Klopp’s plans, all the while a mooted £100 million-plus move to Barcelona failed to materialise.

The playmaker is expected to report back to first-team training with Liverpool, who face Manchester City in a blockbuster Premier League clash on Saturday.

Coutinho 17/2 to score last at City

Though Coutinho will once again start from the bench in Barranquilla, Tite is certain that the attacker is fully capable of performing.

“Coutinho is physically fit to play 90 minutes,” Tite is quoted by Globoesporte. 

“I can count on him for part of the game. He’s fine physically, but technically it’s different. He has not played for a long time.”

Liverpool held firm in their determination to keep Coutinho, who submitted a transfer request late in the window, reportedly rejecting four bids for the Brazilian.

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Klopp intimated that he will welcome Coutinho back into the fold, telling SPORT1 this week: “We have exactly the situation we wanted.”


Souness: Liverpool should have sold Coutinho to Barcelona

Liverpool should have sold playmaker Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, according to club legend Graham Souness.

The Reds turned down three bids from Barca this summer, even after the 25-year-old playmaker submitted a transfer request.

Reds 10/1 for PL title

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group were adamant about keeping the Brazilian, turning down a £114 million offer and releasing a statement that said: “The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered.”

But Souness, a former Liverpool midfielder and manager, has questioned the kind of attitude Coutinho will have for Jurgen Klopp’s side following such a high-profile transfer saga.

“Going forward, what sort of Coutinho is Jurgen Klopp going to have around the place?” Souness wrote in The Sunday Times.

“There will be some players in the dressing-room who are not terribly happy with him and everyone will be keeping a close eye on him.

“Will he still be the same committed Coutinho from past seasons? Only he can answer that.

“I would have accepted an offer in excess of £100m for him.”

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Coutinho, who has not yet appeared for Liverpool this season, is currently with Brazil ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Colombia.


Barcelona will struggle without Neymar and Real Madrid have a stronger squad, says Mendieta

The departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain has left Barcelona playing catch-up with Real Madrid in La Liga, according to Gaizka Mendieta.

PSG met Neymar’s €222million release clause last month to secure the Brazilian’s services on a five-year contract, breaking up Barca’s fabled attacking trident that also included Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Barca 13/2 to win the Champions League

Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho were both heavily linked with switches to Camp Nou to replace Neymar, the former eventually agreeing a move from Borussia Dortmund.

Despite Dembele’s arrival, Mendieta feels the current campaign will be a tough challenge for the Blaugrana given the loss of Neymar, and says their squad does not have the same strength in depth as their fierce rivals from the capital.

“It’s a big loss for the club, because we know how much Neymar brought into the team with the skills and the talent that he has,” said Mendieta.

“It’s difficult to replace him. Whether they could’ve got any other player, it’s always going to be difficult.

“Barca is Barca, they always have to fight for titles and this year is going to be no different because Real Madrid at the moment is kind of on top. 

“It seems they’ve got a deeper squad, a stronger squad than Barca. But you always have to be there, try to make it difficult for them and try to win as many trophies as possible.”

Another bid for Coutinho ahead of next season has been mooted by some, but Mendieta says Barca’s interest may depend on how the playmaker performs for Liverpool in 2017-18.

“I think, obviously it’s something the player would’ve been happy to have happened and obviously Barca wanted it to happen as well,” he added. 

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“But next season is going to be completely different. It depends what happens this season, depends what happens with many factors we don’t know today. So, we’ll have to wait and see.”


‘We still have a really good player’ – Klopp delighted at Coutinho stay

Jurgen Klopp has declared Liverpool still have “a really good player” after retaining Philippe Coutinho and did not want to compare his situation with Ousmane Dembele’s, who forced through a move to Barcelona.

Coutinho spent much of the summer embroiled in a drawn out saga that saw him hand in a transfer request in hope of moving to Barca as part of the Catalan club’s plans to replace Neymar.

Liverpool 18/1 to win Champions League

However, Liverpool declared Coutinho was not for sale, and resisted all attempts by the Liga giants to pressure the club into a deal.

Meanwhile, Barcelona did manage to secure the services of Dembele from Dortmund, after spending €105 million plus add ons which could make it the third most expensive transfer of all time.

While Klopp talked about the two situations, he hesitated to compare them and levied a criticism of the media in the process, suggesting they reported on the saga without having all the facts.

HD Phil Coutinho Jurgen Klopp

“We have our situation and Dortmund has another,” Klopp told SPORT1 .

“Don’t believe everything in the press or that there are offers here and there and that the minute after the offer has been entered, it should already be over.

“We are not like George Orwell where everybody knows everything immediately. We have exactly the situation we wanted and no other.”

Klopp declared the situations different, and noted Liverpool still had Coutinho, paying the player a compliment in the process.

“Dortmund decided [Dembele] would leave them, so I cannot compare the two situations.

“We still have a really good player in the squad who can play.”

Coutinho has been sidelined since pre-season with a back injury and illness though he came off the bench to score for Brazil in their 2-0 victory over Ecuador in World Cup qualifying.

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Liverpool is next in action on Saturday against Manchester City, then faces Sevilla in the Champions League Wednesday before a battle against Burnley the following Saturday.


Luis Garcia: Coutinho stay crucial for Liverpool

Former Liverpool star Luis Garcia believes keeping Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho at the club was vital for the Premier League side.

Coutinho, 25, was a major target for the La Liga giants during the transfer window, but Liverpool stood firm to keep the Brazil international.

Liverpool 14/1 to beat Man City 1-0

Garcia, who won a Champions League with Liverpool, talked up the significance of holding onto Coutinho amid Barcelona’s interest.

“Of course everybody would like to have Coutinho in their team because for the last two or three years he has been showing how important he is for Liverpool,” the Spaniard said on Saturday.

“Many, many teams have been interested in signing him so, for Liverpool, I think it was very important for them to keep him.

“If they want to be competitive in this difficult Premier League they need to keep all of their important players.”

Even without Coutinho, Jurgen Klopp’s men have made a bright start to the Premier League season, claiming seven points from three games to be second in the table.

New signing Mohamed Salah has impressed, scoring three goals in five games in all competitions.

“The add of Salah was important,” Garcia said. “I think we’ve seen he has fit very well into the team and scored a few goals and he is showing he is fantastic with the other players.

“I think they are pretty happy but again it depends on their future results but they have had a fantastic pre-season and it looks like a bright future.”

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Liverpool’s first game after the international break is a blockbuster clash against Manchester City on Saturday.