Philippe Coutinho has been left out of the Liverpool squad that will travel to Germany on Monday ahead of their Champions League play-off first leg against Hoffenheim, with the midfielder’s future growing increasingly uncertain by the day.
The 25-year-old Coutinho missed Liverpool’s 3-3 draw with Watford on Saturday that opened their Premier League campaign due to a back injury, although the extent of that setback has been thrown into doubt given the furore over his attempt to join Barcelona that led to last Friday’s transfer request.
Liverpool are determined not to sell Coutinho, with the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group issuing a statement to confirm that the Brazil international will still be one of their players come the end of the transfer window after rejecting a €100m [£90.4m] offer from Barcelona.
Setting his team up for the game in Germany has to be uppermost in Jurgen Klopp’s thoughts, so he could certainly have done without the drama surrounding Coutinho.
Liverpool’s stance on the Brazilian’s future had seemed pretty unequivocal, but Klopp’s cryptic post-match comments have cast some doubt on that. This past Friday he was singing from the same hymn sheet as the owners: Coutinho was not for sale, under any circumstances.
Klopp was saying he must defer to whatever the owners wish 24 hours later. Naturally some assumed that the club must be about to sell against the German’s wishes, while others took it to mean that Klopp must feel betrayed by Coutinho and it is he who wants rid of the player but is being overruled by owners Fenway Sports Group.
However, the statement was followed by an emailed transfer request from Coutinho’s camp, with the former Inter Milan midfielder determined to move to the Nou Camp this summer while Barcelona’s interest in him is alive.
More to follow…