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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Coutinho on Barcelona: 'Everyone knows I was interested but it is also a great honour to be at Liverpool'

Brazilian playmaker was the subject of three offers from the Primera Liga club but Liverpool were determined to hold on to one of their key players.

Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season for Liverpool in the Premier League draw against Burnley on Saturday. Phil Noble / Reuters
Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season for Liverpool in the Premier League draw against Burnley on Saturday. Phil Noble / Reuters

Philippe Coutinho has spoken publicly for the first time about his desire to join Barcelona this summer, but insisted he remains focused on "a good season" for Liverpool.

Coutinho, 25, emerged as the No 1 transfer target for Barca following Neymar's €222 million (Dh974m) world record move to Paris Saint-Germain in August.

Barcelona had three offers rejected for the Brazilian playmaker, the last of which was reported to be worth €140m, as Liverpool maintained a firm stance that they would not sell one of their key players.

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Coutinho made his position clear by submitting a transfer request in an attempt to force the move through, but this too was immediately rejected by Liverpool.

While his desire to join Barca is no secret within Liverpool, there have reportedly been no issues with Coutinho within the squad, and he made his first start of the season in the 1-1 Premier League draw with Burnley on Saturday.

Following that match with Burnley, Coutinho spoke to ESPN Brazil about Barca's interest and the ultimately failed attempts to secure a move to the Camp Nou.

"What happened was a job offer and, in life, sometimes you get interested,' Coutinho said. "Sometimes you don't and, in my case, everyone knows that I got interested, my family too.

"But as I have always said, it is a great offer to receive an offer from such a great club like that. But it is also a great honour being here. Liverpool is a great club worldwide.

"I'm here and I will give my best as always. I'm working hard, my thoughts are on the team's goals, making a good season."

While admitting the disappointment of missing out on a move to Barcelona did affect him, Coutinho said he is now looking toward the future with Liverpool.

"It was a complicated month for me but as I have said, it is an honour to receive that offer but it is also an honour to wear this shirt, so what I can do is work hard and honour that on the field. It is all cool," he said.

"I have conquered my space in four, five years and never had any problems with anyone – the fans, the board, my teammates, the coaching staff. That has not changed. As I have said, in life, in every job you get an offer, interested or not. It is all in the past."