PSG face fight to sign Coutinho as Liverpool set to hold firm

The Ligue 1 champions are willing to offer around £45 million for the Brazilian, but anticipate facing a brick wall as the Reds are disinclined sellers

Liverpool are expected to bat away any approaches for Philippe Coutinho this summer as Jurgen Klopp plans to build his first full campaign at the helm around the club’s Player of the Season, Goal understands.

Paris Saint-Germain have made advances to the Brazil international’s camp as they plan another massive outlay in the transfer market. He fits the creative profile they are looking for and is on the Ligue 1 champions’ list of targets ahead of 2016-17. 

It is understood Coutinho is not a priority, though, with Alexis Sanchez and Antoine Griezmann their main objectives currently.

No official approach has been made to the Reds yet, but PSG would be open to offering around £45 million for the playmaker. 

However, they anticipate hitting a brick wall.

Coutinho, who signed a new five-year deal with the Reds in February, has given the club no indication he wants to move on. The 23-year-old is happy on Merseyside and his young family are settled in the city. 

Liverpool, similarly, have no designs on letting him depart. Klopp has referred to Coutinho as “a genius of a player” and the Rio-born star, bought for just £8.5m from Inter in January 2013, is one of the German’s genuine match winners.

He cleaned up at the club’s end of season awards, winning four accolades – the same total at the end of 2014-15, when former captain Steven Gerrard said: “I’m privileged to share a dressing room with him. He’s the next big thing for me.

“I hope he stays here for a long time and can help the club win more trophies.”

GOALREAD MORE  |’Klopp has a bit of Shankly about him’

Liverpool hold the same wish and would be loathe to lose another one of their premier players for a third season running. 

Luis Suarez left for Barcelona in the summer of 2014, with Raheem Sterling recruited by Manchester City a year later, when Steven Gerrard also exited to LA Galaxy. 

The club do not need to sell to buy, and are set to hold firm on Coutinho.

Hulk looks GINORMOUS next to Philippe Coutinho

The burly Zenit striker posed for a photo alongside the Liverpool midfielder – and the difference in size is staggering


We all know Hulk is a big lad, but this is just too much.

The Zenit striker, who has scored 21 goals in 35 games this season, is currently with Brazil’s national team ahead of their Copa America campaign.

Hulk took time out to post a picture on Instagram alongside Philippe Coutinho – and next to the Liverpool midfielder, he looks even more enormous than usual…


Vamos lá mano @phil.coutinho #CopaAmericaCentenario #DeusNoComandoSempre

A photo posted by Givanildo V. De Sousa- Hulk (@hulkparaiba) onMay 28, 2016 at 9:12am PDT


Argentina, France and Chile all cast aside – Dunga's perfect Brasil Global Tour record

Ahead of Sunday’s clash against Panama, CBGT takes a look back at the coach’s 100% record that included wins over Argentina, France, Chile, USA and Colombia

Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour
05/09/2014 Brazil 1-0 Colombia Miami (USA)
09/06/2014 Brazil 1-0 Ecuador East Rutherford (USA)
11/10/2014 Brazil 2-0 Argentina Beijing (China)
14/10/2014 Japan 0-4 Brazil Singapore City (Singapore)
12/11/2014 Turkey 0-4 Brazil Istanbul (Turkey)
18/11/2014 Austria 1-2 Brazil Vienna (Austria)
26/03/2015 Brazil 3-1 France Paris (France)
29/03/2015 Brazil 1-0 Chile London (England)
07/06/2015 Brazil 2-0 Mexico Sao Paulo (Brazil)
10/06/2015 Brazil 1-0 Honduras Porto Alegre (Brazil)
05/09/2015 Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Harrison (USA)
08/09/2015 Brasil 4-1 USA Foxborough (USA)

With one year to take stock of the “the 7-1” that brought the curtain down on the World Cup, the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour became a welcome distraction for the Selecao as new coach Dunga sought to implement wholesale changes to both the approach and personnel. It brought immediate success, too, as a more solid, pragmatic side sailed to six consecutive victories.

It all started with a sign of things to come, as new captain Neymar proved the match-winner by netting a sensational free-kick against Colombia in Miami.

That was followed up a few days later with another single-goal victory over Ecuador in East Rutherford as Willian came of age with the Selecao.

Things got even better in Dunga’s first match for which a trophy was up for grabs. On a night when Diego Tardelli and Jefferson looked to have established themselves in the long-term future of Brazil, Argentina were put to the sword in Bejing.

A fourth win arrived days later when Neymar stood up to take his place among the legends of the past with a stunning four-goal haul in Singapore.

He added two more when the Brasil Global Tour resumed in November, inspiring Dunga’s side to back-to-back 4-0 wins.

2014 came to a triumphant end in Vienna as Roberto Firmino went from unknown to household name in Brazil with one swing of his trusty right boot.

The 2015 calendar kicked off in earnest with a meeting with France in Paris that was followed up less than 72 hours by a match against Chile in London. Those first two outings of the post-World Cup 2014 era pitted the Selecao against strong opposition and served to restore some of the confidence that was left at an all-time low by the defeat to Germany in Belo Horizonte.

Dunga sought to usher in an evolution, bringing in a number of new faces as well some old friends. And the year ended with the coach’s perfect Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour record intact.

Below, CBGT revisits our six tour stops of 2015.

BRAZIL 3-1 FRANCE – 26/03/2015

The year began in March against the nation that dashed Dunga’s hopes of lifting the World Cup for a second time, in 1998. The two captains from Brazil’s 3-0 loss to France sat opposite one another in the dugouts. Though Dunga stressed this game was never about revenge, he would no doubt have taken particular pleasure in exorcising a few of his personal ghosts. Brazil had worked extensively on set pieces in the lead-up to the match, so the coaching staff were left frustrated after Real Madrid man Raphael Varane headed the hosts into a 21st-minute lead.

Chelsea midfielder Oscar was one of the members of the World Cup 2014 squad who survived Dunga’s cull and rewarded his new coach by grabbing the equaliser 20 minutes later, netting his 12th goal for Brazil. The Selecao then found their counter-attacking rhythm as Neymar put them ahead before Luiz Gustavo headed the third to seal a victory that pleased the press back at home. Brazil had their groove back.

BRAZIL 1-0 CHILE – 29/03/2015

Forward Roberto Firmino was the star of the show in Brazil’s second victory of 2015, upstaging both Neymar and Alexis Sanchez as the Selecao saw off a physical Chile side in London. A fiercely contested match saw Dunga field a much changed line-up due to the limited recovery time available to the players after the France game, with only Jefferson, Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda and Neymar retaining their places.

Douglas Costa and Philippe Coutinho were given chance to impress, as was veteran Robinho – who had netted nine goals in just eight previous games against Chile. Firmino watched from the bench in the first half as the game produced few opportunities for both sides. He was introduced in the second period and made an immediate impact, latching onto a Danilo through-ball to round the goalkeeper and net the only goal of the game. It was a strike that confirmed Firmino’s place for the upcoming Copa America. Brazil were now on a roll, with eight wins in eight games under Dunga.

BRAZIL 2-0 MEXICO – 07/06/2015

For the first time in 2015, Brazil were forced to take to the field without captain Neymar when they hosted Mexico ahead of the Copa America. The Barcelona star had been busy in Berlin the previous day, writing yet more history as he fired his club side to the Champions League title.

Without him, the Selecao struggled to find any real cohesion going forward. Mexico threatened to cause an upset as Brazil controlled possession but failed to carve out many clear chances. It was a big night for Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho, who was given a chance to prove he can be a worthy deputy to Neymar – and it was a chance he grabbed with both hands he scored a wonderful goal before Diego Tardelli netted to ensure Dunga’s 100 pe cent record remained intact. Brazil had feared they would be in for a frosty reception in what was their first game since World Cup 2014, but the locals received their returning stars with open arms.

BRAZIL 1-0 HONDURAS – 10/06/2015

On a cold and rainy night in Porto Alegre, the Selecao saw few fans brave the elements to turn out at the Beira Rio stadium, where Dunga had begun his career with local side Internacional. It was Brazil’s final match before kicking off their Copa America campaign and they were without right-back Danilo, who suffered an injury against Mexico that would keep him out of the tournament in Chile. Monaco’s Fabinho replaced him in the side and Thiago Silva was dropped in favour of David Luiz. Real Madrid midfielder Casmeiro was also given a chance to impress in midfield.

Neymar was back and made an appearance of the substitutes’ bench in a narrow victory that once again saw Firmino come to Brazil’s rescue. The performance sparked some fresh concerns as Dunga prepared his side for their first competitive match since the World Cup but Firmino once again ensured the winning streak continued, netting the only goal of the game after 32 minutes to give the Selecao victory in Porto Alegre – they had now won ten on the bounce under their new coach.

BRAZIL 1-0 COSTA RICA – 05/09/2015

The Copa America proved disappointing for Brazil as they exited in the quarter-final following a penalty-shootout defeat to Paraguay. However, by now attentions had already turned to the upcoming World Cup qualification campaign and Dunga made a number of changes to the squad that went to Chile, with the likes of Thiago Silva banished while Hulk returned for the first time in over a year. Kaka also returned, while Gremio’s Marcelo Grohe replaced Jefferson in goal. Santos playmaker Lucas Lima also joined the squad and would make his debut for the national team.

The clash with Costa Rica marked a year since Dunga’s reappointment and it would be the penultimate test before qualification began. With Neymar suspended for the first two qualifiers following a red card against Colombia at Copa America, Hulk inspired the Selecao to victory with the only goal of the game in New Jersey.

BRAZIL 4-1 USA – 08/09/2015

Brazil ended the year with their most complete performance of 2015, hammering USA 4-1 in Boston with Neymar the star of the show, as he came off the bench at half-time to score twice in their last match before kicking off their World Cup qualifying campaign. Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Rafinha Alcantara also impressed, scoring a wonderful goal to round off a comprehensive victory at the Gillette Stadium that won back the confidence of the Brazilian media.

2015 on the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour proved a hugely successful year for Dunga and his charges. Now they hoe 2016 will bring just as much success. Next stop, Colorado.

Leicester & Liverpool to battle for Long

The Southampton striker has scored 13 goals in 32 appearances in 2015-16 and is now wanted by both the Premier League champions and Jurgen Klopp’s side this summer. You always have to check Soccer Scores when he’s in the first team.

Leicester City and Liverpool are both keen to sign Southampton striker Shane Long this summer, according to The Independent.

The Foxes are keen to reinforce their squad after winning the Premier League while Liverpool are attracted by the forward’s physical game.

However, the report claims that a bid of at least £25 million will be needed to persuade the Saints, who are preparing for a Europa League campaign in 2015-16.

Will he join Philippe Coutinho in Liverpool, only time will tell.

Coutinho asked for a selfie – straight after Liverpool's Europa League defeat

The Brazilian looked glum after the final whistle but that didn’t stop one fan from rushing up to him for a quick snap on the pitch


There’s a time and a place for everything – but a selfie with a Liverpool player after Wednesday’s Europe League final was definitely the wrong moment.

Jurgen Klopp’s men slumped to a 3-1 defeat to Sevilla, despite taking the lead through Daniel Sturridge’s stunning strike as the Spanish club roared back with a barnstorming second-half display.

There were tears at full-time from Liverpool players and fans – but one supporter decided to seize the moment and get a selfie with a glum-faced Philippe Coutinho.

And the Brazilian really didn’t look too happy to oblige…

Magic man Coutinho must make Liverpool levitate in Europa League final

The 23-year-old enjoyed a clean sweep at the club’s awards ceremony, but he now has the chance to win a first trophy with the Reds in the Europa League final


There were times, as a futsal aficionado in Brazil and then especially as a weighty teenage investment at Inter, when Philippe Coutinho wondered whether he was really cut out for football and if all the sacrifices had been worth it.

As an 18-year-old, he was declared “the future” of the Italian side who recruited him from Vasco, with his parents moving from South America to join their son on his European expeditition.

Coutinho’s father painfully had to quit his job, and his mother was terribly homesick as neither could pick up the language nor get accustomed to a completely alien culture. 

They eventually returned to Rio de Janeiro. 

Aine, his then girlfriend and now wife and mother of his five-month old daughter, left everything behind at 17 to support the playmaker’s career. 

He suffered multiple injuries at Inter and was never guaranteed a start, so the question marks he had over his path were understandable. But when the 23-year-old lines up for the Europa League final against Sevilla at St Jakob-Park on Wednesday, there will be no doubts – only another occasion to push himself and Liverpool to greater heights. 

Coutinho, signed for a steal of £8.5 million in January 2013, has certified himself as the club’s big-game player: scoring in both trips to Wembley over the past two seasons, netting the decisive strike in the last 16 to eliminate Manchester United from the continental competition, as well as getting the second in the astounding 4-3 comeback victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-final at Anfield.

He missed his spot-kick in the League Cup shootout defeat to Manchester City at the end of February, but it was his goal that allowed the club to even force the game to penalties under the arch of the national stadium.

CLEAN SWEEP! Phil Coutinho is #LFC Player of the Season, his fourth award of the night – the same tally as last year

— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) 12 May 2016

Coutinho is Liverpool’s joint-top scorer with 12 in the campaign, and as the Reds look to conjure something special in their 12th European showpiece in Basel, they will again turn to ‘O Magico’.

Last week, he scooped four awards at the club’s annual ceremony, including Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season. It mirrored the haul he collected in 2014-15, when Steven Gerrard handed over the accolades and stated: “I’m privileged to share a dressing room with him. He’s the next big thing for me.

“I hope he stays here for a long time and can help the club win more trophies.”

Gerrard’s second wish is exactly what Coutinho will aim to start achieving at St Jakob-Park, where he can close off another impressive personal campaign with team honours. His individual prizes at Liverpool number double figures, but he is yet to lift a collective one.

The Reds have come close – ‘hitting the post’ as per the Brazilian saying – in the 2013-14 title race, the 2015 FA Cup and League Cup as well as this season’s edition of the latter.

GOALREAD MORE  | Dudek: Liverpool need new era of legends

At the club’s 2016-17 New Balance kit launch in front of the majestic Liver Building last Monday, kids wearing his name on the back of their shirts implored Coutinho to sign autographs, before telling the Rio-born star they backed him to break that sequence of near-misses against Sevilla.

A little boy, no older than eight, tugged on the attacker’s tattooed arm and simply said: “I believe we can do it because of you. Bring home the Cup.”

Coutinho would love nothing more.

“A win would be fantastic for me,” he admitted.

“I have enjoyed the season and it would make it really special, yes. But for the entire squad, too. 

“We would end the season on a high and be in the Champions League, of course. That is important for the club and for the players too – Liverpool is a club that needs to be at the highest level.”

The virtuoso who grew up in the shadow of the iconic Maracana Stadium is just the player to help them get there.

Coutinho wins FOUR awards at Liverpool's end of season ceremony

The 23-year-old picked up a quartet of accolades just as he did at the end of 2014-15, following another campaign in which he proved to be the club’s standout star

Philippe Coutinho dominated at the Liverpool Players’ Awards ceremony for the second year running, collecting four prizes including Player of the Season.

The Brazilian was also selected as the Players’ Player of the Season, while his delightful dash into the box and dink over David de Gea in the 1-1 Europa League draw with Manchester United was voted as the Goal of the Season. 

That’s four in the bag for @Phil_Coutinho! He’s our Player of the Season!

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 12, 2016

On that wondrous and vital chip, Coutinho said: “It was a good one for me, but the most important thing is we beat them!”

And on being voted the club’s standout star by his colleagues, he added: “This means a lot to me, because it comes from my team-mates. It’s been a good season for all of us. 

“Now next week we have a big final, let’s do it together and show how strong we are.”

The 23-year-old, who is Liverpool’s joint-top scorer alongside Daniel Sturridge with 12 strikes, also walked away with the Performance of the Season accolade for his luminary showing in the 4-1 scorching of Manchester City at the Etihad. 

Coutinho’s four-award haul mirrored his tally from last year, in which he topped the same categories. 

Midfielder Emre Can, meanwhile, was named Young Player of the Season. 

Martha Harris clinched the Liverpool Ladies Players’ Player of the Season award, with Brad Smith earning the Academy Players’ Player of the Year vote. 

Liverpool legend Steve Heighway was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to the club over the past 46 years.

Steven Gerrard, whom the 68-year-old helped bring through while acting as director of the Reds’ academy, provided a special video tribute to the former Republic of Ireland international.

TEAM NEWS: Traore starts up front for Chelsea as Liverpool name strong side

The German marks a half-century of matches in charge on Wednesday night, and has selected his best available 11 as the Reds wave farewell to their fans for the campaign

Jurgen Klopp has fielded his strongest possible line-up as Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield in their final home encounter of the season, which doubles up as the manager’s 50th game in charge of the club.

Daniel Sturridge spearheads the attack with Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana operating off the striker. Emre Can and James Milner marshall the midfield, while Dejan Lovren reaches a half-century of league games for the Reds. 

GOALREAD MORE  | Suarez hails Liverpool spell

The first XI for the visit of the Blues is expected to closely resemble the side that will face Sevilla in the Europa League final on May 18. 

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 12 encounters at Anfield and are one goal short of recording 150 against Chelsea in the top-flight at home. 

Chelsea, meanwhile, field Asmir Begovic between the posts, as Thibaut Courtois was ruled out by illness from the clash. 

Diego Costa is another absentee for Wednesday’s clash, as Bertrand Traore starts as Chelsea’s solitary forward with Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard in support.  

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno; Milner, Can; Coutinho, Lallana, Firmino; Sturridge.

Subs: Bogdan, Skrtel, Smith, Lucas, Allen, Ojo, Benteke.

Chelsea: Begovic; Azpilicueta, Mikel, Cahill, Baba Rahman; Fabregas, Matic; Pedro, Willian, Hazard; Traore 

Subs:  Amelia, Tomori, Kenedy, Loftus-Cheek, Palmer, Pato, Abraham. 

How will Brazil line up at the Copa America?

ANALYSIS: Despite Neymar missing the trip to the USA and David Luiz, Oscar and Roberto Firmino among the omissions, coach Dunga has a settled side for the tournament

Brazil head to USA next month in search of their ninth Copa America crown.

With captain Neymar sitting out in order to lead the Selecao into August’s Rio games, coach Dunga has selected a young squad for the centenary edition of the Copa America and is desperate to build momentum ahead of a second major tournament on home soil in two years.

The Copa America squad | Brazil’s complicated Copa America history | Gabigol, the future?

One-time Dunga favourites Danilo, David Luiz, Marcelo, Oscar, Fernandinho, Kaka and Roberto Firmino were among those dropped from the group, however, Brazil still look set to arrive in North America with a fairly settled XI. 

The high-profile omissions have made headlines around the world but their absence will require only minor tweaks to the first team, which will be finalised on May 29 as the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour hosts Panama in Denver.

Below, we take a look at the expected line-up that will seek to improve on last year’s disappointing quarter-final exit.


Internacional’s Alisson Becker was handed his chance with the national team in October after Dunga ran out of patience with the previously immovable Jefferson and looks set to remain Brazil’s No.1.

The 23-year-old made his international debut in the 3-1 victory over Venzuela in World Cup qualifying after Jefferson failed to impress his coach in the 2-0 defeat to Chile days previously.

He remained for the next four qualifiers, and despite keeping just one clean sheet in his five caps to date, the reportedly Roma-bound man impressed, particularly in the 2-2 draw with Paraguay last time out.

He will be under pressure from Valencia’s Diego Alves, who has returned to the squad following a serious knee injury. It’s possible Alisson would never have got his chance were Diego Alves fit, but the Inter man has taken it with both hands and is currently the Selecao’s undisputed No.1.


For the back four it will be business as usual, with one exception: David Luiz has been dropped from the squad completely and will be replaced by Shandong Luneng’s Gil in central defence.

David Luiz is the second most-used defender under Dunga (13) and has captained the side twice. However, a red card against Argentina in November was quickly followed by a yellow in March’s qualifier with Uruguay, which earned him a second suspension in two international breaks.

Coupled with his struggles to contain Luis Suarez in the latter, Dunga appears to have lost patience and will turn to former Corinthians’ man Gil. He will be joined my Miranda, who has been a pillar of consistency and played all 22 matches under the current coach. The Inter man should captain the side.

Atletico Madrid’s in-form Filipe Luis will remain at left-back and Barcelona’s Dani Alves is set to retain his place on the right. Olympic prospects Douglas Santos and Fabinho will provide cover for the full-backs.


In midfield, Corinthians man Elias should return. He formed a strong partnership with Luiz Gustavo at the base of the midfield prior to an injury and was often preferred over Fernandinho.

The biggest plus in the last two rounds of qualifiers has been the emergence of Elias’ former club-mate Renato Augusto. His decision to go to China was criticised by local media but the smart-passing playmaker has been arguably Brazil’s best player over the last four matches, scoring twice.

He will be charged with filling the creative void left by Neymar. As will Willian, touted by many as being Brazil’s most consistent performer since World Cup 2014. The Chelsea man has grown into a senior role with the team Dunga’s arrival, his tireless work ethic now complemented by a willingness to take responsibility on the ball.

Willian will likely start wide right of an attacking midfield charged with supporting a lone striker, with Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa on the left. A major tactical shift under the current coach, however, is to have his front men constantly on the move, so they could well interchange throughout games.

Lucas Lima, Rafinha, Coutinho and Casemiro all appear set for a battle to prove themselves worthy of a starting berth.


Centre-forward has been an issue ever since World Cup 2014, with local commentators suggesting Brazil are suffering a lack of top talent in the role. Dunga attempted to circumnavigate the issue by introducing a false No.9 but is yet to find anyone to convince him entirely.

The likes of Diego Tardelli, Luiz Adriano, Robinho, Roberto Firmino and Jonas have all come and gone.

Thirty-six-year-old Ricardo Oliveira is enjoying something of an Indian summer in international football and is favourite to start in USA, though he will offer the presence of a more traditional centre forward.

He will face competition for the place from Hulk, another who has been tried but is yet to claim the position as his own.

Most interesting, however, could be Oliveira’s Santos team-mate Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa. He is another set to join Neymar at the Rio games. The uncapped 19-year-old is yet to make a major splash for his country, and was even left out of the Under-20 World Cup squad that finished runners-up in New Zealand last year.

He has been in fine form for his club, however, and could well be the future of the Selecao.


Dunga should have his side line up in a variation of 4-3-3, which can morph into a 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1.

Neymar’s absence means Brazil will be forced to confront their two biggest issues dating back to the previous World Cup: can they do it without Neymar? And who can be Brazil’s No.9?

Ricardo Oliveira spoke this week about sharing the burden in the Barcelona man’s absence, and the decision to save him for the Olympics also means Dunga will not be able to ask him to solve the problem of who can lead the line.

Arriving just one year after last year’s edition, the Copa America Centenario certainly isn’t Brazil’s top priority. However, a good showing in USA would set them in good stead for the Rio Olympics and buy Dunga a little relief from the increased pressure he’s found himself under in recent months.

Denis Suarez: Liverpool deserve respect for dumping out Dortmund

The attacker respects the Reds and spoke of his awe of Jurgen Klopp, but is confident Villarreal can hold their own in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday


Denis Suarez insists Liverpool deserve respect from Villarreal for their last-gasp win over Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-final. 

Suarez admitted that the Yellow Submarine squad had watched parts of the clash between the Reds and Dortmund, as Jurgen Klopp’s side mounted a remarkable comeback to win.

Trailing by three goals, Liverpool turned the tie on it’s head to win the second leg 4-3, with the midfielder suggesting it was incredible that they managed to elminate Thomas Tuchel’s side. 

“We have seen portions of the game [Liverpool’s win over Dortmund]. It was incredible,” Suarez told Goal. “Liverpool eliminated a team that I think was the favourite for the title. And so you have to respect them a lot.

“They have a great team and a great squad, and although we have nothing to envy, we do respect them a lot.

“Of course [an-all Spanish final is the target]. But first we have a very tough tie against Liverpool in the semi-finals. Hopefully it will be like that.

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The match against Dortmund heralded the revival that Klopp has led at Anfield, and Suarez confirmed he was a big fan of the German’s work, adding: “I’ve followed Klopp since he was at Dortmund.

“His teams are tactically very good, with great intensity, rapid transitions, effective in attack, and I think Liverpool are also making their mark. They are a great team and will be a very, very difficult opponent for Villarreal.”

Nevertheless, Suarez was quick to insist his team are not inferior to their visitors on Thursday, talking up the strengths of the Yellow Submarine while discussing comparisons with Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho. 

“I think anyone in the early season would have thought we would do well at this stage,” the Spaniard suggested.

“We are fourth in La Liga, Champions League qualification is not yet out of reach and we will try in these coming days to reach it.

“And in Europe we now have an incredible tie against a historical rival like Liverpool. Everyone would like to play this kind of game and we now have the possibility of playing them, but we will also try to win, of course.

“I have adapted very well to Villarreal and its style, the team is doing very well this year and Marcelino has given me confidence, that is appreciated.

“It’s true that we [Coutinho and I] play in the same position, more or less, and have similar characteristics. To me, Coutinho seems to me a great player.

“He’s had a very good season, scoring goals and playing well. I’m not one to talk about a duel between him and me, but I do hope Villarreal win.”