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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Jurgen Klopp denies new Barcelona claims on Philippe Coutinho: 'Nothing to say from our side'

Liverpool manager surprised by fresh speculation of deal nearing completion as he turns focus to Crystal Palace

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp arrives at Vicarage Road before the Premier League game against Watford on August 12, 2017 in Watford, England. Alex Broadway / Getty Images
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp arrives at Vicarage Road before the Premier League game against Watford on August 12, 2017 in Watford, England. Alex Broadway / Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has dismissed Barcelona claims that a deal for wantaway playmaker Philippe Coutinho is close to completion.

The club have rejected two bids from Barcelona, the last one for a reported €100 million (Dh431m), and a week ago issued a defiant statement insisting no offers would be considered and the player would remain at the club beyond the summer window.

Coutinho, who is currently sidelined with a back injury, immediately handed in a transfer request and after Wednesday night’s Spanish Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid Pep Segura, Liverpool’s former academy technical manager and now Barcelona’s general manager, told Catalan television station TV3: “We are close to Coutinho and [Ousmane] Dembele.

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“We are discussing their deals but do not know when it will be done.” Asked if he expected them to sign, he added: “Yes, we expect it.”

However, Klopp is adamant there have been no more developments and the two clubs are not even in discussions.

“I saw the game [Real-Barcelona] but I forgot to watch the interviews afterwards. Nothing to say from our side,” the German told a news conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game at home to Crystal Palace.

“I don’t know why other people are saying what they are saying; I don’t even know them - especially this guy, I’ve never even met him.”

Asked whether there had been any subsequent talks since the last bid was made to Liverpool for the midfielder, Klopp added: “I am not sure I have to answer this only because we have said what we have to say, or the club said what we have to say.

“No news from me because no-one told me anything different since we spoke last time about this.”

There have been suggestions Coutinho could agitate for a move by effectively going on strike but while he is still injured it is a moot point.

Klopp was asked about the prospect of this and the Brazil international’s general attitude.

“To be honest I have nothing to say about his attitude because since he has had a back problem he has obviously not been in training,” he said.

“I asked the medical department how he is doing and there are no complaints so that is how it is. There is nothing bad to say about this.

“We are all not silly. We know it is a very difficult situation but there is nothing new to say.

“It is not always easy for me to say the 100 per cent truth - even though I don’t like to lie - but it is exactly how I say it because that is how it is in the moment, nothing else.”

Liverpool have had a relatively quiet transfer window compared to many of their rivals, signing defender Andrew Robertson, winger Mohamed Salah and striker Dominic Solanke.

They have been linked in British media with moves for Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk and midfielder Naby Keita of RB Leipzig, but both players’ clubs have said they are not for sale at any price.

Fans have expressed frustration with Liverpool’s failure to invest further in a squad that finished fourth in the Premier League last season, but Klopp said that he was happy with the players he has already.

“The whole market is difficult,” Klopp said. “If the transfer window had ended yesterday we already have a team I like. The transfer window is a very important time, but it’s also important what we do with the actual team.”

The manager said striker Daniel Sturridge, who sustained a thigh injury in pre-season, is fit to return for Liverpool’s first home game of the season, which could prove a tough encounter against a side they have struggled against on their own turf in recent seasons.

Palace, who lost their opening match 3-0 at home to promoted Huddersfield Town in Frank de Boer’s first game in charge, could become the first side to win four straight Premier League matches at Anfield if they are the victors.

“I am really looking forward to Anfield. It’s our place. It’s been a long time since we played there,” Klopp said.

“We know it is a tough game. Probably both teams not overly happy” with their first games.

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