Liverpool owner: I can’t understand why Suarez & Coutinho left

Liverpool owner John W Henry insists he cannot understand why players such as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho wanted to leave the club.

Both the Uruguay international and the Brazilian playmaker moved to Barcelona, in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

Suarez sparkled at Anfield prior to his transfer, scoring 31 league goals in the season before his move, while Coutinho netted 12 goals and provided eight assists in the half-season before the January deal.

Henry, though, believes that Liverpool are at the top of the food chain, and insists that, had they stayed, they would be in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI for this weekend’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.

“Maybe it’s because I’m an American, but I have a difficult time understanding why anyone would want to leave Liverpool,” Henry told Associated Press.

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“The club is so rich in history and tradition, supported by so many millions around the world, in virtually every country of the world.

“You don’t want to be in the position where players want to go somewhere else, even if it is a great club like Barcelona.

“It’s hard to understand why players would want to go to a league where the competition is so weak. They must play 30 or so meaningless matches per year waiting for Champions League matches.

“They’ll be watching this weekend and could have been playing.

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“But [FSG president] Mike Gordon, [sporting director] Michael Edwards and everyone in our scouting department have done a terrific job in making the best of those two difficult situations.”

Mohamed Salah has enjoyed a stunning season this term, thus far netting 44 goals in all competitions, leading to speculation linking the Egypt international with Real Madrid and Barcelona.

It remains to be seen if, this time, a star player will remain at Anfield.


Liverpool coach proud of how Reds responded to ‘painful’ Coutinho exit

Philippe Coutinho’s departure for Barcelona was “painful” for Liverpool, admits assistant coach Peter Krawietz, but the Reds have offered the perfect response.

Having seen a key creative influence go chasing the dream at Camp Nou in January, those left behind at Anfield could have buckled and lost their way.

Coutinho’s absence has, however, barely registered on Merseyside, with Jurgen Klopp’s side arguably an even greater attacking force without the Brazil international.

The likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have continued to flourish, helping Liverpool to the Champions League final, with one man not allowed to disrupt collective harmony.

Krawietz told SPOX on how the club handled a sale they were reluctant to sanction: “His change was very painful, because we lost his quality and special style of play.

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“So we had to ask ourselves: Can the group deal with this? Can we respond to this urgent call to change?

“In the end we answered in the affirmative. Phil was a formative figure with us. It was a pity he left. Fortunately, we have managed to absorb his loss collectively.

“Of course, one notices whether a player is happy or unhappy. 

“When a club approaches a player and suggests things to him, such as he might force a situation that complicates the situation for his current employer, that’s not nice and distressing for everyone.

“Of course, that was also a topic in the group, even though Phil had made the best possible contribution to the team until the last day in Liverpool.”

Liverpool were ultimately one of the victims of Neymar’s record-breaking €222 million (£195m/$260m) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017, with the transfer market flooded with cash.

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Those in Catalunya used part of that fee to bring in Coutinho, having already landed Ousmane Dembele, while Klopp and Co have forced to bide their time in indentifying a replacement after seeing valuations soar around the world.

Krawietz added: “We’ve already looked around, but when you do that, you notice relatively quickly how much the prices have exploded since the Neymar transfer last summer.

“Every club knew that there are now €222m in Barcelona. This led to a few incredible stories and a spiral that you felt, for example, not only with us, but also in Dortmund [where Borussia Dortmund lost Dembele for £135.5m].”


Barcelona 1 Real Sociedad 0: Coutinho stunner lights up Iniesta’s farewell

Andres Iniesta’s illustrious Barcelona career came to an end with a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad at a Camp Nou in celebratory mood.

The 34-year-old had announced in April that he would leave the Catalan giants at the end of the season – just two days before Ernesto Valverde’s side beat Deportivo La Coruna to confirm a 25th LaLiga title.

Played out against that backdrop it was hardly surprising that at times it felt more like a testimonial match rather than the final league game of the season.

Iniesta demonstrated his abundant repertoire in a dominant first-half display, finding his team-mates with an array of precise and inventive passing, something he has done with distinction since his debut in the 2002-03 season.

While the World Cup winner was not involved in the game’s solitary goal, he will have looked on admiringly as Philippe Coutinho whipped in a fine finish from outside the area after 57 minutes.

The curtain eventually came down on Iniesta’s time with Barca in the 81st minute, the midfielder leaving the field to a rapturous reception and handing over the captain’s armband to Lionel Messi in a symbolic gesture.

In a bright, open start it was the visitors who carved out the first clear sight of goal, Willian Jose heading straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Adnan Januzaj’s clipped cross.

The Belgian winger then tested Barca’s goalkeeper himself soon after with a whipped effort from outside the penalty area before Iniesta came close to a fairytale goal – his low strike flashing past Miguel Angel Moya’s right-hand post and into the side netting.

A rejuvenated Ousmane Dembele then delivered two fine crosses in quick succession that should have resulted in an opener. First, an unmarked Ivan Rakitic failed to locate the target with a header from 10 yards and then Luis Suarez scuffed a shot wide from the Frenchman’s low ball into the box.

Sociedad were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men moments before the interval when Raul Navas hacked down a marauding Dembele on the right, referee Jose Luis Munuera Montero opting to give the defender just a yellow card.

Barca started the second period with a spring in their step and were rewarded with a goal of the highest calibre from Coutinho.

The Brazilian – who netted a hat-trick in last weekend’s remarkable 5-4 defeat to Levante, a result that ended Barca’s unbeaten record in the league this term – cut in from the left and unleashed a trademark curled finish from 25 yards that crashed in off Moya’s left-hand post.

Messi almost set up a second minutes after his introduction, only for fellow substitute Denis Suarez to shoot too close to Moya, while the Argentine forward could not direct a header beyond the Sociedad goalkeeper from Luis Suarez’s cross. 

Iniesta’s long goodbye finally came to an end nine minutes from time when he was replaced by Paco Alacer, while there was also time for Sociedad to pay tribute to their own legendary midfielder Xabi Prieto, the 34-year-old coming on for the final few minutes ahead of his retirement at the end of the campaign.


VIDEO: Everyone loves to watch Brazil – Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish

The Reds great is confident the returning Coutinho will receive a warm welcome when the Selecao take to Anfield in June on the Brasil Global Tour

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish believes Philippe Coutinho should be given a warm welcome when he returns to Anfield next month when Brazil face Croatia ahead of the World Cup. 

Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in the January transfer window for £142 million and will make his first return to Anfield on June 3 alongside the likes of Neymar, Willian, Dani Alves and Fernandinho.

Dalglish is excited to see how Brazil perform ahead of the World Cup in Russia and believes the Liverpool fans will give Coutinho a warm reception.  

Dalglish said: “I would hope that, if there are people there who are Liverpool fans, they would give Coutinho a good reception.

King Kenny can’t wait to welcome Brazil

“Everybody loves to watch Brazil!”

Posted by Brasil Global Tour on Friday, May 18, 2018

“There may be people there who are upset that he’s left but they’re entitled to their opinion, but don’t turn up if all you want to do is boo people.

“I can understand the disappointment because he was fantastic over the past 18 months, but go watch Brazil and watch Firmino and the fantastic times he’s given.

“With Coutinho, his ability was a good start and the goals he scored from outside the box were tremendously exciting.

“If you take on Brazil and plan to focus on Coutinho then you’ve only got Neymar to contend with after that. 

“If those two are having a bad time then Bobby Firmino might step up for one – he normally scores at Anfield anyway.”

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Dalglish played 355 times for Liverpool during his career and won 102 caps for Scotland, including a few games against Brazil, which he remembers fondly, despite a lack of positive results. 

Dalglish said: “When I went to Brazil with Scotland, we lost 2-0 in 1977 and it was preparation for the World Cup in Argentina in the next year – I think I got about four or five touches and three of them were the kick-off.

“My memories don’t include a win. A few years before that, in 1974, we managed to draw 0-0 in a qualifying game and in 1982 we lost 4-1.

“We were doing okay in that one, we were holding our own until David Narey scored a goal for us and that upset them so they banged in four after that.”

Brazil go into this summer’s World Cup looking to exorcise the demons of four years ago, where they infamously lost 7-1 in the semi-finals at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro to Germany. 

Dalglish believes this Brazil team, who dominated South American qualifying, losing just once in 18 matches, are more formidable than they were in 2014.

He said: “I don’t think Brazil can play without being entertaining, the last time they played they lost 7-1 to Germany, but I think they’re a lot stronger now than they were then. 

“It would be interesting to see what they’ve got up front, they’ve got some firepower if the starters come off, they’ve got some great, great options.

“Even defensively which isn’t usually that attractive, they’ve got two fantastic defenders in Thiago Silva and Marquinhos.”

Dalglish was keen to stress that Croatia will bring some excellent players of their own and add to the spectacle, but believes the allure of Brazil will ultimately bring the crowds to Anfield. 

The Scot said: “Croatia are not bad either, they’ve got four or five players who play for the top sides in Europe so it’s not going to be an easy game.

“They have got Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic who’s at Juventus – so they’ve got strong, good players who can cause you problems as well.

“But everybody loves to watch Brazil. When you see the yellow jersey, there’s something about it – ever since Pele, there’s always be an association with the football fans in Brazil.”

Brazil take on Croatia in the Brasil Global Tour at Anfield on Saturday, 3 June (KO 3pm).

Tickets from £30 Adults/£10 Under-16s are on sale at


Levante 5 Barcelona 4: Boateng and Bardhi demolish Barca’s invincible ambitions

Barcelona’s bid to complete an unbeaten LaLiga season collapsed in astonishing circumstances as Ernesto Valverde’s champions collapsed to a 5-4 defeat at Levante.

Unheralded Ghanaian forward Emmanuel Boateng was the hero for home side as he doubled his tally of goals in Spain’s top flight with a hat-trick.

Boateng’s initial first-half strikes were pegged back by Philippe Coutinho but an often wretched Barcelona showing – without the rested Lionel Messi – collapsed into all-out defensive shambles after half-time.

Enis Bardhi, who hit the post in between Levante’s first two goals, found a pair of sublime finishes amid the chaos and Boateng making a claim for the matchball.

Coutinho led the Barca fightback by completing a treble of his own and Luis Suarez’s 71st-minute penalty had Paco Lopez’s men on unsteady legs.

Suarez missed a glorious chance to equalise and Levante full-back Antonio Luna almost put through his own goal but the invincible dream perished at a raucous Ciutat de Valencia.

Suarez played in Coutinho for an early chance but the Brazil midfielder overplayed his hand – wastefulness Barca would soon regret.

Making a third LaLiga start at the heart of Barcelona’s defence, Yerry Mina lost Jose Luis Morales and the Levante skipper’s cutback evaded goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Boateng to turn home in the ninth minute.

Morales was to the fore once more on an attack where Boateng touched on for Bardhi to rattle the post. It seemed easier to score.

Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele struggled to make an impression before having a 25th-minute attempt deflected behind and a disjointed showing from the visitors was punished again with half an hour played.

Thomas Vermaelen was stricken by an apparent hamstring injury and, as Sasa Lukic weaved through the Barca midfield, Boateng stole in behind temporary centre-back Sergio Busquets and rounded Ter Stegen to finish.

Gerard Pique came on for Vermaelen and the Spain defender’s surge forward in the 38th minute ended with Coutinho’s deflected drive flying past Oier Olazabal to reduce the arrears.

It looked a false dawn and Barca imploded early in the second half.

Jordi Alba shovelled the ball into midfield and Levante pounced with a lightning counter, Jose Campana picking out Bardhi to rifle home brilliantly from 20 yards.

Worse was to follow for Valverde as two marginal offside calls fell in Levante’s favour, Luna surged on to Roger Marti’s flick on and Boateng claimed his third.

Another delightful side-footed finish from Bardhi, with Marti again the provider, had Levante in dreamland.

Barcelona’s heads cleared enough for Coutinho to seize upon a mishit clearance and net his second before a careering contest reached the hour mark.

Ivan Rakitic started to get a hold on midfield and it was now Levante’s turn to wilt in a defensive stupor.

Coutinho earned his share of the matchball by dispatching Busquets’ pass from the edge of the box, even though replays suggested the shot might have deflected off Suarez.

There was no doubt over the Uruguay striker making it 5-4 from the penalty spot after Boateng blotted his performance by coming together with Busquets at the near post.

Suarez should have equalised in the 74th minute, with Levante opting en masse against marking him but Barca’s number nine headed Coutinho’s free-kick over.

There was baited breath all round when Luna scuffed Alba’s cross behind and, after substitute Ruben Rochina spurned a glorious chance for 6-4, Levante could celebrate a remarkable triumph.


Dembele & Coutinho show why Barca bought them but nobody can replace Iniesta

Some players simply cannot be replaced and Andres Iniesta falls into that category.

The 33-year-old midfielder announced recently that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season, having spent his entire career at the Catalan club. And he will be sorely missed.

Before kick-off in Barca’s rearranged league fixture on Wednesday, Iniesta was presented by a ceramic yellow submarine in a lovely gesture of respect by the visiting team. But he still sank Villarreal with some sublime stuff en route to an emphatic 5-1 win.

The World Cup-winning midfielder conjured up two astonishing pieces of skill from his very special box of tricks – the first, a delightful threaded pass for Lucas Digne, who squared for Paulinho to tap home; the second, a delightful chipped pass to set up Lionel Messi for Barca’s third goal.

He came close to scoring himself, too, firing just wide from a Messi ball after the Argentine had returned the compliment. And as so many times before, the Camp Nou chanted his name.

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As he left the famous field for the penultimate time in a Barca shirt, he was given a rousing ovation by the Camp Nou crowd. There is one more match left for those fans to marvel at his talent – against Real Sociedad on the final day of the season. And then it will be all over.

But as Iniesta departs, with a move to China or Japan still likely despite denials this week, there is also reason for optimism for Barca following the impressive performances of both Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele on Wednesday.

Dembele has hardly been trusted by Barca boss Ernesto Valverde this season, the French forward also enduring two spells on the sidelines through injury. But with La Liga wrapped up, he was given a chance against Villarreal and showed just what he can do.

Barcelona Villarreal score

The 20-year-old went on a superb run in early in the game before fizzing a curling effort towards the far corner. And it brought a goal as Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo could only push the ball out as far as Coutinho, who slotted in from close range.

The Brazilian has now been directly involved in nine goals in his last 10 games for Barcelona in all competitions, with four goals and five assists, making light of some harsh criticism from former Juventus and Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello during Sunday’s Clasico clash, in which he was withdrawn after Sergi Roberto’s red card.

Coutinho was signed as a long-term replacement for Iniesta and he already looks like he will be a success story at the Catalan club.

Dembele, meanwhile, remains raw and gave the ball away carelessly at times. With age and talent on his side, however, he should be a real asset over time.

Ousmane Dembele Philippe Coutinho Barcelona 2017-18

And he rounded off a happy night with two goals late in the game – the first from close range after some great play by Ivan Rakitic and the second a superb individual effort which saw him beat two rivals and dink the ball over Asenjo.

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That showed just why rumours that he is on the market this summer are very much exaggerated. Barca know they have a talent on their hands, but the Blaugrana are keen for him to improve his work-rate and tactical discipline.

The Frenchman has now been directly involved in a goal once every 92.55 minutes for Barcelona across all competitions this season, with seven assists and four goals in his 1,018 minutes.

He, like Coutinho, is very much here to stay. It is just a crying shame that Iniesta is not.


‘Liverpool need Coutinho cover for title challenge’ – Reds lack ‘killer pass’, says Redknapp

Liverpool will need to find a suitable replacement for Philippe Coutinho in the summer transfer market if they are to mount a Premier League title challenge in 2018-19, says Jamie Redknapp.

The Reds fought hard to keep a Brazilian playmaker at Anfield in 2017, but eventually bowed to pressure from Barcelona when the La Liga giants came calling again in January.

A big-money sale did bring in €160 million, and Jurgen Klopp’s side have fared admirably without Coutinho, but his departure has created a midfield void.

Redknapp feels that will need to be filled if a sizeable gap to champions Manchester City is to be bridged, with Liverpool still needing someone to provide the “killer pass” for a fearsome attacking unit of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

The former Reds star told the Daily Mail: “The biggest compliment you can pay Jurgen Klopp since January is that Liverpool have not missed Philippe Coutinho.

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“While they have brushed aside Manchester City and Roma in the Champions League without him, against the smaller teams they have lacked a player of his quality who can unlock the door.

“Liverpool are most dangerous when their opponents have the ball. One mistake and their fearsome forward line pounces.

“When teams drop deep and defend — as Stoke did on Saturday as they battled to a 0-0 draw — Klopp’s team struggle to make the breakthrough.

“Coutinho has that ability to unpick a defence with a killer pass. He could have turned one point into three. That is what Liverpool need to seriously challenge Manchester City for the title next season.”

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Liverpool already have one midfielder ready to bolster their ranks this summer, with a deal in place for RB Leipzig star Naby Keita.

They are also being linked with several other high-profile targets, with Klopp ready to invest in the right players.

For now, though, the Reds are very much focused on the present, with those currently at their disposal taking aim at a top four finish and the Champions League final.


Deportivo La Coruna 2 Barcelona 4: Magic Messi hat-trick secures LaLiga title

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona regained the title in LaLiga with a pulsating 4-2 win against Deportivo La Coruna, who were relegated.

The runaway leaders headed into Sunday’s fixture at the Riazor knowing a point would be enough to win a seventh title in the past 10 seasons and the 25th in their history.

A routine victory looked on the cards from the moment Philippe Coutinho finished Ousmane Dembele’s pass, and Messi scored a 30th league goal of the campaign from Luis Suarez’s sensational assist to double the lead.

But Depor, who had to win to avoid relegation, made a real contest of it and Lucas Perez deservedly cut the deficit before the break and Emre Colak finished a fine team move to level in the 64th minute.

Ultimately, though, Depor failed to complete the comeback and the brilliant Messi stuck the nail in their Liga coffin with two further late strikes to leave Barca celebrating another title triumph.

It caps a stunning turnaround for a Barca side that saw Real Madrid conquer LaLiga and the Champions League last season, while a 5-1 aggregate Supercopa de Espana defeat to their Clasico rivals in August coupled with the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain led to suggestions the Catalan giants were in crisis.

But Barca have quashed those concerns in some style, with Ernesto Valverde able to celebrate a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double in his first season as head coach.

Some frailties remain, as exposed by the quarter-final Champions League collapse to Roma, but the possibility of an unprecedented unbeaten LaLiga season is realistic with four matches to go, albeit they must negotiate next weekend’s Clasico to keep that dream alive.

Andres Iniesta, who made a late cameo, will also depart Camp Nou with a ninth LaLiga crown, the Spain great announcing this week he will leave the club after a 22-year association.


Coutinho sale ‘incredible’ business for more balanced Liverpool, says Warnock

Liverpool’s €160 million sale of Philippe Coutinho has proved to be “incredible” business, says Stephen Warnock, with the Reds boasting better balance without the Brazilian.

Having initially resisted interest from La Liga giants Barcelona in the summer of 2017, those at Anfield agreed to part with a key creative cog during the January transfer window.

Fears were raised as to how Jurgen Klopp’s side would fare without Coutinho pulling the strings, but he has barely been missed as Liverpool have become an even greater attacking force in his absence.

They now have money in the bank, ready to invest at the next opportunity, and a settled side which continues to benefit from the fine recruitment work being overseen by a highly-rated manager and supportive board.

Former Reds defender Warnock told BBC Sport on the parting with Coutinho: “I know fans were worried it was the wrong move but that kind of money means it is good business.

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“And I don’t think there are many players Klopp has bought or sold in his time at the club you would say was a terrible buy, or who we are missing.

“In fact, I would hold my hands up and say his transfer business has been incredible. He has not turned his squad over or brought in a massive influx of players. And his approach is good for the dressing room.

“That is another reason why the fans should trust him – he knows what he is doing whether it be tactics, on the training ground or in the transfer market.”

With Coutinho gone, the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have flourished at Anfield – with the former having taken his goal tally to 41 and landed the PFA Player of the Year award.

Sadio Mane Roberto Firmino Mohamed Salah Emre Can Liverpool 2017

Warnock added on a side closing in on a top-four finish in the Premier League and readying themselves for a Champions League semi-final clash with Roma: “You cannot say they are better without him [Coutinho], because we do not know where they would be in the Premier League if he had stayed – but they have definitely adapted.

“There is more emphasis on the front three to create more for themselves now, because they haven’t got Coutinho behind them to create for them.

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“And there is a better balance to the team too. Everyone is talking about the difference [£75m defender] Virgil van Dijk has made – and he has been immense at the back – but having another midfielder who is more defensive-minded than Coutinho has definitely helped as well.

“Liverpool have been improving as the season has gone on anyway, and there are several reasons for that, but it will have taken people by surprise that they have kicked on the way they have since selling Coutinho.

“They obviously believed they could deal with him leaving – and they have.”


Neymar puts Salah, Coutinho & Hazard in World Cup bracket just below Messi & Ronaldo

Neymar believes the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah and Eden Hazard are ready to illuminate the 2018 World Cup.

Several nations will be heading to Russia this summer harbouring ambitions of claiming global glory, with talismanic figures within their respective ranks ready to lead the charge.

Brazil, with Neymar back to full fitness following a broken metatarsal, are among the favourites, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be shouldering the weight of expectation with Argentina and Portugal.

Two men with 10 Ballons d’Or between them are expected to shine on the grandest of stages, but who steps up if they are taken out of the equation?

That question was put to Neymar during a recent promotional event in his homeland, and the Paris Saint-Germain forward said: “There are lots of quality players, it’s the World Cup we’re talking about, only the best in the world.

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“But Coutinho and [Gabriel] Jesus are two that can make a difference, I hope they do.

“Salah doesn’t play for a big national team, but he can have a good World Cup.

“There are also other very talented players: Hazard, [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Luis] Suarez.  

“I hope we all can perform well and have a wonderful World Cup, but I expect them not to do so against Brazil!”

Neymar has been out of action since February 25, with an unfortunate injury forcing him under the knife.

Neymar Brazil

He is, however, edging closer to a return, with the 26-year-old hoping to be ready to be ready by mid-May.

There will not be much domestic football to come at that point, but there will still be time in which to prepare himself for a World Cup quest.

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Neymar saw his 2014 campaign devastated by injury at the quarter-final stage and he is determined to help Brazil fulfil their potential four years on.

He added: “I’m happy to be part of a team that, for me, is the strongest right now.

“We have the quality players required to win and we’ll try to make it happen.”