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Philippe Coutinho is welcome, says Jurgen Klopp even as FC Barcelona hover

Philippe Coutinho made a transfer request in a bid to convince Liverpool FC (coached by Jurgen Klopp) to sell him to FC Barcelona, whose three offers have been rejected so far

football Updated: Aug 23, 2017 10:26 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho,Liverpool FC,FC Barcelona
Liverpool FC fans have been pleading with Philippe Coutinho to stay at Anfield, rejecting the offer from FC Barcelona.(Getty Images)

Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho would be welcomed back into the squad because the unsettled Brazilan’s attempts to force a move to FC Barcelona have not damaged their relationship.

Philippe Coutinho handed in a transfer request earlier this month in a bid to convince Liverpool to sell him to Barca, who have had three offers for the forward rejected.

The last of those bids was reported to be worth £118 million (128.7 million euros, $151 million), but Liverpool have maintained their stance that the 25-year-old will not be sold in the current transfer window, which shuts at the end of August.

With FC Barcelona reportedly ready to admit defeat for the moment, Coutinho could be forced into the awkward position of staying at Anfield in the short-term at least.

A back injury and a bout of sickness are keeping Philippe Coutinho out of action at present, but Klopp stressed that when he is fit enough to return, there will be no attempt to send him into exile as punishment.

“Of course, everything is okay between me and him. Absolutely. 100 per cent,” Klopp said on Tuesday.

Coutinho is yet to feature this term due to a back injury picked up in pre-season and will once again be unavailable when the Reds face Hoffenheim in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier at Anfield.

“He can’t start tomorrow because on top of that he’s now ill,” Klopp said.

“It will take time because he has not trained for a long time. I’ve no idea at this moment (when he will return), we would have to check when he is back.”

Regarding suggestions a deadline imposed by Barcelona to complete a transfer had now elapsed, Klopp replied: “I never give any comment to whatever’s written or said but it’s 100 per cent clear that nothing’s changed.”

Despite Coutinho’s absence, Liverpool are still expected to seal their place in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday.

Holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Germany, Klopp has called on Liverpool fans to generate a hostile atmosphere to see his team through.

“The first game was good enough to get the result, the second game needs to be better,” he admitted.

“Anfield is a main factor, we all know it. It’s a very special place.

“Nothing happens by itself, we have to perform, deliver. We all know the atmosphere can and will help you.

“I would be concerned if people would think it’s a weak side coming from Hoffenheim. We are ready to fight.”

First Published: Aug 23, 2017 10:13 IST