Coutinho rumours of no interest to Valverde

Ernesto Valverde insists he is not interested in discussing rumours of a renewed Barcelona push to sign Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho in January.

The Brazil star was heavily linked with the Catalans in the previous transfer window but a deal failed to materialise, despite reports Barca lodged bids worth more than the initial €105million they paid for record signing Ousmane Dembele.

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There has been speculation they will again test Liverpool’s resolve to keep the playmaker next month, with some suggesting president Josep Maria Bartomeu will take personal responsibility over the negotiations.

However, head coach Valverde says it is pointless to talk about transfer rumours, especially while the window is closed.

“The problem is we’ve been speaking about players for a long time who are not part of the club,” he told a news conference. “There was a lot of talk during the close season.

“Right now, we can’t sign anybody, so let’s concentrate on what we’ve got now. It’s damaging to us to discuss these things when the market is closed. When we get to the market, I probably won’t want to discuss these things, either! 

“At the moment, Coutinho is not one of my players. I want to worry about my players and the game we have [against Celta Vigo on Saturday].”

Arda Turan Barcelona

Valverde also denied speaking with Arda Turan about the prospect of a move away from the club, with the Turkey international having been recently linked with Arsenal, potentially as part of a swap deal involving Mesut Ozil.

“I’ve not spoken to Arda or any other player like this,” he said. “There’s still some time before the winter window.”

Dembele, signed from Borussia Dortmund to replace Neymar, only placed twice in La Liga before suffering a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined ever since.

Valverde stated this week that the France star is unlikely to recover in time for the Clasico on December 23 and he remains wary of rushing Dembele back into action too soon.

Ousmane Dembele Barcelona

“I’ve been asked this before,” he said about the prospect of the 20-year-old facing Real Madrid. “He’s making good progress with his recovery. We think he could be back relatively soon but, as I’ve said, we won’t take any unnecessary risks.

“In theory, we’re not planning on using him until after Christmas, but let’s see how things go in the next few weeks.”

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Valverde also hopes to have Rafinha back with the rest of the team as soon as possible, with the midfielder yet to play this season due to a knee injury.

“He’s okay, relatively speaking,” he said. “He’s been sidelined for a long time and training on his own, which has been tough for him. We need to get him back in the group dynamic.

“We need to take things carefully and not overload him. But, from what I can see, he’s in a positive mood at the moment.”

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Neymar and Suarez make Coutinho’s dream five-a-side team

Philippe Coutinho has backed Neymar to be a future Ballon d’Or winner while selecting the Brazilian in his dream five-a-side team.

The Liverpool playmaker has pieced together a side made up of those he has played alongside over the course of his career.

Coutinho 11/10 to score at Stoke

That is a serious talent pool from which to select, with Coutinho forced to leave himself out in order to include five iconic figures.

He was able to find room for former colleagues at Anfield and Inter, while offering the most expensive player in world football an opportunity to lead the line.

Philippe Coutinho dream five a side

Coutinho believes fellow Brazilian Julio Cesar was “the best goalkeeper in the world” when he linked up with Inter back in 2008.

He also considers World Cup winner Lucio, who “won everything at Inter”, to have been among the global elite when at the peak of his powers in Milan.

There was also high praise for ex-Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard – a midfielder Coutinho admits he already considered to be an “idol” before the pair worked together in England.

He told Sky Sports: “When I arrived it was a dream to play with a guy I used to watch in Brazil and play as on the PlayStation.

“He’s the best midfielder I’ve ever played with. He was better than I thought he was [before I arrived].

“He was an idol for me but when you see him training and in the dressing room it is even better.”

Another former Reds colleague, Luis Suarez, is considered to be a “killer” in front of goal and the best striker Coutinho has played with.

The final place in the 25-year-old’s side is filled by international team-mate Neymar, with the Paris Saint-Germain star expected to be named the best player on the planet at some stage in the near future.

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Pressed on whether the €222 million man will land the Ballon d’Or, Coutinho said: “Yes definitely, it’s coming… he’s the best technical player I have played with.

“He’s very skilful, in training there will be five players around him them he’ll do one movement to get away.”

Coutinho opted to name ex-Inter star Wesley Sneijder as his substitute and current Brazil boss Tite as his manager.
 

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We have to stay awake all the time – Coutinho frustrated after Sevilla collapse

Philippe Coutinho admits Liverpool must learn from Tuesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw with Sevilla, despite the result keeping them on course to win Group E.

Jurgen Klopp’s side looked to be coasting to victory on Spanish soil when they led 3-0 at the break, only to suffer a worrying second-half collapse that once again raised questions over their defensive deficiencies.

Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice before Guido Pizarro struck a dramatic late equaliser to rescue a point for Sevilla and deny a shell-shocked Liverpool from qualifying for the knockout stages.

Coutinho put the capitulation down to the players losing focus after such an impressive first half, something they can ill-afford to let happen again in the future.

“It wasn’t a good result, we almost felt like we do after a defeat,” the Brazil international told Liverpool’s official website.

“We had a great first half and then in the second half we let everything unravel and so we were all feeling very frustrated. 

“We have to stay awake all the time, 100 per cent. I think that the first half, the way we went into the game, we have to go into the second half [like that] too. 

“And I think all of the players, we all switched off a little bit and we thought that at 3-0 it was going to be a little bit difficult for the opposition [to come back]. 

“That’s what happens sometimes when you play football.”

Despite the disappointing result in Seville, Liverpool will still win the group if they beat Spartak Moscow at Anfield on December 6.

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“If you had offered us a draw [before the game] that would have been fine and [felt] better than the way the game went,” Coutinho added.

“The problem is that we were 3-0 up and playing with great intensity and had a result that was going to be great but then they drew level and that frustrated us. 

“But really, it’s a point for us and we are still top of the group, so it was an important point.”

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Fantasy Football: Hazard leads the Goal’s Team of the Week

The 12th match week of the Premier League season is now in the books and, as such, it’s time for another Goal Fantasy Team of the Week. The big clubs took care of business in this round of matches with five of the top six teams winning over the weekend. This was rightly reflected in Fantasy as those same clubs produced eight of the 11 best individual performances.

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GK: Heurelho Gomes – Watford – 1 Game, 5 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 9 Points

DF: Shkodran Mustafi – Arsenal – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

After missing the previous four matches, the German defender returned to big effect against rivals Tottenham. The goal he scored at the Emirates was his first of the season and only his third since joining Arsenal so it was a bit of a collector’s item. The clean sheet though, that’s interesting. Mustafi has now earned a clean sheet in his last five matches, and the Gunners have failed to pick one up without him this season.

Marcos Alonso Chelsea

DF: Marcos Alonso – Chelsea – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

DF: Chris Smalling – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Goal Conceded = 8 Points

MF: Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 17 Points

Hazard had a massive day for both Chelsea and his Fantasy owners with his two goal and one assist outing on Saturday. This performance is the latest in a good run for the Belgian, having now notched three goals and two assists over the last five matches. The odds are good that Chelsea’s star man can continue his run next week against Liverpool’s inexperienced right back options (Alexander-Arnold, Gomez).

MF: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

GFX LINE UP FANTASY TOTW MD12

MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

MF: Paul Pogba – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

Not many people expected Pogba to get the start against Newcastle, but he did that and more. He picked up right where he left with his goal and assist and has only blanked once when fit this season. His return should help turn around a Manchester United attack that had failed to score multiple goals in five of the seven matches played without the Frenchman. His price fell to 7.1 whilst out injured making him an incredible value in the Goal game.

MF: Will Hughes – Watford – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

Callum Wilson Bournemouth

FWD: Callum Wilson – Bournemouth – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points

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Well this came out of nowhere! Coming into this match Bournemouth were in the bottom 10 in both chances created and goals scored and were facing a solid Huddersfield defence. Wilson, however, decided to buck those trends, coming up with an astounding three goals. Harry Kane is the only English player with more Premier League hat-tricks since Bournemouth were promoted.

FWD: Alvaro Morata – Chelsea – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 10 Points

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Have Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane made Philippe Coutinho expendable?


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Philippe Coutinho has become a footballing superstar at Liverpool after signing from Inter Milan for a modest £8.5 million in January 2013. Then a 20-year old, the Brazilian initially caught the eye with his dribbling, passing and set piece prowess, and became an increasingly integral part of the Reds setup.

The 2016/2017 campaign was his best to date, as he scored 13 league goals and made seven assists.

Liverpool 6/4 to beat Sevilla

His brilliant displays got the attention of potential suitors and Barcelona came knocking for him this summer. The Catalan giants reportedly made multiple bids for his services, tabling offers as high as £114 million to snare the playmaker. However, Liverpool refused to sell despite Coutinho placing a transfer request.

With the transfer window shut and the new season now in full gear, Coutinho has five goals to his name already this term across the Champions League and the Premier League.

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 2017

However, while the Brazil international will look to add to his tally on Tuesday evening when the Reds face Sevilla in UCL action, he’s not as critical a component of Jugen Klopp’s side as he used to be.

This season, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have stolen the show, changing Coutinho’s role in the team in the process.

Senegal and Egypt internationals have been the livewires for Liverpool this term, scoring 12 of the Reds’ 24 league goals so far.

Salah was a £36 million summer signing from AS Roma and has lit up the Premier League this term, helping supporters forget his underwhelming stay at Chelsea.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Mane is Liverpool’s top scorer since the start of last season with 16 goals to his name, and the Reds’ struggles during his injury absences or suspensions demonstrate just how valuable he is for the Merseysiders.

With the duo contributing so much going forward, despite not being recognised as out-and-out strikers, Klopp has had no need to use a conventional centre-forward domestically. Indeed, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke-their two recognised strikers-have just two goals between them this term.

The prowess of Mane and Salah was highlighted in Liverpool’s most recent league outings; away to struggling West Ham and at home against Southampton.

In the first match-one of their best displays this term-Salah scored a brace and Mane assisted both goals as the Mersey outfit ran out 4-1 victors.

Sadio Mane Liverpool

Coutinho wasn’t present during the game as he was out with an abductor problem and his absence wasn’t really felt, nor was it in the previous 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

The ease with which Liverpool fare without the Brazil international comes in stark contrast to their struggles when Mane isn’t present.

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Coutinho is a fine player, and has dealt admirably with his inabiltiy to secure a move away from Anfield, but recent fixtures demonstrate exactly where he stands in the pecking order at Anfield, even if he did score and contribute an assist against Saints.

 

Salah and Mane in tandem represents not just an effective Plan B for Liverpool, but also an ever-more appealing Plan A as their synergy improves.

Expect Barcelona to return for Coutinho in the transfer windows to come, and while Klopp may still be unwilling to part ways with such a talented individual, the African duo have at least demonstrated that the Reds can thrive without the Brazilian.

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I’ve fulfilled my dreams already – Klopp has no plans to coach Barcelona

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he is not interested in the prospect of joining Barcelona as he has already fulfilled his dreams in his career.

The 50-year-old was linked as a possible replacement for Luis Enrique early this year, before Ernesto Valverde was appointed as his successor at Camp Nou in May.

Liverpool 6/4 to win at Sevilla

But Klopp, whose Liverpool side take on Sevilla in Spain in the Champions League on Tuesday, claims he would not need to take charge of the Catalan giants in order to take a step up in his career.

Asked if he would consider coaching Barca, he told a news conference: “I don’t need good weather. I’m really happy at Liverpool, as I was really happy at [Borussia] Dortmund. I’ve fulfilled my dreams already.

“If Liverpool don’t want me anymore, I have to start thinking new. But in this moment I’m really happy and I don’t think about any clubs.”

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 2017

Klopp also expects Philippe Coutinho to stay at Anfield, despite speculation linking Barca with a renewed push to sign the Brazil star in January.

“The only opportunity for us to be successful is to have a good team. It’s our job to make them want to stay at Liverpool,” he said.

“In Spain, you’re used to a lot of media, a lot of different things. But we are completely cool. Phil is 100 per cent at Liverpool. When the market closes, we’re all professionals and we do our job again.”

Liverpool will qualify for the last 16 if they win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, while a draw would be good enough to send them through if Spartak Moscow lose to Maribor.

Klopp admits this is his side’s biggest Champions League match of the season but wants his players not to be overawed by the prospect of an intimidating atmosphere.

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“This is THE game, so far. Facing Sevilla, in Seville – a very experienced football team, good football-playing team. That’s the Champions League, it’s how it should be,” said Klopp, whose side drew 2-2 with Sevilla at Anfield.

“I played here with Mainz and Dortmund. The atmosphere depends on the performance of the away team. It’s our job to make the game not that enjoyable.

“We’re not here to enjoy the atmosphere. We’re here to get a result. It’s not an excuse that we’re not at home.”

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Coutinho to join Neymar at PSG? Liverpool star next in the sights of Agent Silva

Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho could be set to join fellow countrymen Neymar and Thiago Silva at Paris Saint-Germain if the latter gets his way.

The French giants smashed the world transfer record over the summer to bring in one Brazilian from Barcelona for €222 million.

Coutinho 8/5 to score vs. Sevilla

They could now be about to join the La Liga heavyweights in the battle for another, with Coutinho having registered on the radar at Camp Nou for some time.

Liverpool have been able to retain the services of their 25-year-old playmaker for now, but PSG defender Thiago Silva believes a big-money move could be pushed through in 2018.

He told Telefoot: “I talk a lot with Coutinho. I hope that at the end of the season or even before, it could be a nice surprise for us.

“I hope he will think well and that next year he will work with us.”

Philippe Coutinho Thiago Silva Liverpool PSG

Thiago Silva could play a leading role in any approach for Coutinho, with the 33-year-old prepared to help sell PSG to a potential target.

He did likewise when Neymar was weighing up his options, with the experienced centre-half filling in as an agent to get deals over the line.

“As with Neymar, I give him a lot of advice,” he said. 

“But I think the most important thing for him [Coutinho] is to make the best decision.”

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Coutinho has made 10 appearances for Liverpool this season, netting five goals.

He was wanted by Barca as a replacement for Neymar, while PSG would be looking to pair him with a fellow Brazilian if a move is made.

The Ligue 1 table-toppers would, however, have to make room for Coutinho by offloading at least one other forward, with Unai Emery already boasting the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani , Angel Di Maria, Javier Pastore and Julian Draxler within his squad.

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Klopp apologises after Moreno misses birth of child

Jurgen Klopp apologised after revealing Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno missed the birth of his second child to feature in the Reds’ 3-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah scored twice to put Liverpool well in control at Anfield, with the equally impressive Philippe Coutinho adding a third after the interval.

Sakho 7/1 FGS with dabblebet

While it will be Salah and Coutinho who get most of the plaudits, Moreno – who has been impressive this season following a difficult campaign in 2016-17 – was solid again at the back, and Klopp was quick to reach out to the Spaniard’s partner after his no-show at the birth.

“At 2.30am this morning, his wonderful girlfriend gave birth – Alberto Moreno Jr was born in Liverpool,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website.

“He was in the [team] hotel when he was born… sorry to his girlfriend!”

Liverpool – who now sit just a point behind fourth-placed Tottenham – were dominant throughout Saturday’s encounter, and Klopp was delighted with his side’s overall display.

“It was a difficult game, Southampton are a really good football side. It was an open game, we had more chances before we scored,” he added.

“We have to build on our experiences. So far in this season, we’ve had pretty much everything – we’ve played all kind of teams and all kind of styles and there was only one game that was really bad, which was Tottenham.

“Today’s performance looked much more mature and that’s very important for us. We could have scored more often but it was a perfect day for us.”

Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino, on the other hand, acknowledged that his side – who have won just one of their last seven fixtures – must find a way to turn the results around.

“We know that we are in a difficult moment in terms of results,” Pellegrino told the club’s official website.

“In these moments though you learn where you are at and we need to express our character.”

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Liverpool 3 Southampton 0: Record-breaking Salah blows Saints away

Liverpool defeated Southampton 3-0 in the Premier League to seize on Tottenham’s north London derby defeat, as Mohamed Salah broke a Robbie Fowler record and Philippe Coutinho shone on his return to the starting XI.

Egypt international Salah struck twice in the space of 10 first-half minutes to put the hosts firmly in charge against the lacklustre Saints.

In doing so Salah, signed from Roma for a club-record fee in June, notched the ninth goal from his first 12 Premier League appearances on Merseyside, surpassing Liverpool’s previous best of eight from 12 set by Fowler in 1993.

The ex-Chelsea attacker’s exploits have helped to disguise the defensive failings of Jurgen Klopp’s side, although they were not at risk of being exposed by the toothless away team at Anfield on Saturday.

Coutinho, named in the side from kick-off after recovering from a thigh injury, set up Salah’s second and scored the third himself in a performance that demonstrated the continuing importance of a player targeted heavily by Barcelona in the off-season.

And the victory, Liverpool’s fourth in succession in all competitions, means they are just one point behind fourth-placed Champions League qualification rivals Spurs, who lost 2-0 at neighbours Arsenal earlier in the day, as Klopp’s attention turns to the crunch away match against Sevilla on Tuesday.

The visitors almost gifted Liverpool the lead in the ninth minute, as Virgil van Dijk’s mistake, Cedric Soares’ missed clearance and a Fraser Forster fumble saw the ball fall to Salah, but the Egypt international’s shot was deflected wide.

Another error prompted Liverpool’s opener to arrive in the 31st minute and this time Dusan Tadic was to blame, the Serbia international losing possession after attempting to dribble the ball clear following a corner.

A quick exchange of passes after the turnover saw Georginio Wijnaldum tee up Salah, who curled a brilliant strike into the top left corner from 20 yards.

Southampton’s defence were found badly wanting for the second goal 10 minutes later.

Coutinho glided forward unopposed and prodded a clever pass into the area, which Salah raced on to and slid between the legs of the helpless Forster.

Southampton enjoyed a rare sight of goal six minutes into the second half, Sofiane Boufal cutting into the area from the left but seeing his shot blocked by the massed ranks of the Liverpool defence.

Coutinho went close four minutes later, dribbling directly at goal and shooting narrowly wide with Forster scrambling.

The England international shot-stopper was left with no chance five minutes later. He did well to parry a fierce Roberto Firmino strike from a tight angle on the right side of the penalty area, but the rebound fell kindly to Coutinho, who steered home a cool finish to put the result beyond any doubt.

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‘Brother don’t go!’ – Moreno urges Coutinho to reject Barcelona switch

Alberto Moreno has urged Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho to reject a move to Barcelona.

The Brazil international was the subject of three bids from the Spanish giants before the transfer deadline, but the Reds held firm to ensure the 25-year-old remained at Anfield until at least January. 

Liverpool 11/10 for the top 4

Speculation is still rife that Barcelona will make another attempt to sign the attacking midfielder and Moreno says he has done everything he can to convince his friend to stay on Merseyside.

He told The Guardian: “I’ve said: ‘Brother, don’t go.’ If I get to decide, Philippe’s not going.

“He’s my friend and always will be. I don’t know what will happen. If it was down to me, I’d love him close to me for life, always enjoying seeing him play football, which is a wonder.

“But I can’t interfere. It’s Liverpool, Barcelona and him, and they decide. He’s a big piece at Liverpool. Every fan, everyone who watches Liverpool, everyone who understands football knows that. They know that if he goes, it will leave a big hole.

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“It’s a privilege, it’s an honour to share a dressing room with him. I see him train every day and he does things I’ve never seen before.”

Coutinho looks set to return to Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up for Saturday’s home clash against Southampton after missing the past three games with a groin injury. 

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