Philippe Coutinho transfer saga will not distract Liverpool players from task at hand, insists Jurgen Klopp

Klopp is confident that his other players are focused enough to ignore transfer speculation

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Thursday 04 January 2018 18:36
Philippe Coutinho continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona
Philippe Coutinho continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona

Jürgen Klopp insisted on Thursday that Philippe Coutinho's ongoing transfer saga has not and will not affect the mindset and performances of other players in his Liverpool squad.

Barcelona are expected to submit a bid for Coutinho imminently, with both the player and the Liga club keen for a deal to be completed this month rather than at the end of the season.

Having taken a hard-line stance when FC Barcelona made three unsuccessful bids for Coutinho last summer, neither Klopp nor Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners, are currently offering the same definitive assurances that the 25-year-old will stay.

Ahead of Friday's Merseyside derby against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup, the Liverpool manager repeatedly said he is “not interested” in the speculation surrounding Coutinho's future, insisting: “There is nothing to say until there is something to say.”

Klopp did, however, stress that the uncertainty over Coutinho's future will not affect other members of the Liverpool squad and he is confident that his players are focused enough to ignore transfer speculation.

“They are professional football players. Sometimes they are in the middle of the story and sometimes they are sat next to the guy in the dressing room who is in the middle of the story,” he said.

“These young boys are used to this from a really early age and are used to ignoring things around them. If they are smart enough they ignore most of it.”

Klopp added: “All the stories around are no problem. This story is not around since yesterday. It has been around since the summer and did you at any moment get the impression this team is distracted because of transfer rumours? No.

“We are focused on what we have an influence on. All the rest we have to ignore.”

Coutinho is currently sidelined with a thigh injury and will miss Friday's derby, though Klopp said on Thursday that the Brazilian is among a “bunch” of players expected to be fit for the visit of league leaders Manchester City to Anfield on 14 January.

Whether Coutinho is still a Liverpool player in nine days' time remains to be seen, but Klopp would not entertain questions on Barcelona's interest.

“I am not interested in Barcelona. Sorry,” he said, when asked whether the speculation was becoming a distraction. “What can I say about what they do?

“It is always the same. This year it is Phil. Another year it is somebody else. There is nothing to say until there is something to say. That is my position. What can I do? I cannot talk about this part of the game.

“We have to consider everything to keep the players on track. You discuss it but we can not be part of the discussion.”

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