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Liverpool insist Coutinho is not for sale


London (AFP) – Liverpool insisted on Friday that Philippe Coutinho would not be sold at any price amid reports Spanish giants Barcelona had increased their bid for the Brazil playmaker to £90 million ($117 million, 99 million euros).

A statement issued by Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s US-based owners, said: “We wish to offer clarity as regards our position on a possible transfer of Philippe Coutinho.

“The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer (transfer) window closes.”

Coutinho, who joined Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5 million in 2013, signed a new five-year contract with the northwest side in January that did not include a buy-out clause and manager Jurgen Klopp has previously made it clear he’s not for sale.

Barcelona, already one of world football’s biggest clubs, want Coutinho to replace Neymar following his compatriot’s world record 222 million euros transfer to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.

They had two previous bids rejected by the Premier League side but could yet come back with an offer in excess of £100 million.

Barca believe Coutinho can step in for Neymar alongside Lionel Messi and former Liverpool favourite Luis Suarez in a star-studded front three, and could also provide cover for 33-year-old Andres Iniesta in midfield.

Although five-time European champions, most recently in 2005, Liverpool are no longer one of European football’s heavyweights and the last of their 18 English league titles came in 1990 — before the start of the Premier League era.

Klopp, however, has insisted Liverpool are not a “selling club”.

And the German boss is determined to show he is serious about bringing back the glory days to Anfield by retaining Coutinho, Liverpool’s top scorer with 14 goals in all competitions last season when the Merseysiders finished fourth.

“We want to have the best possible team. This means keeping the guys we have,” Klopp told Sky in Germany on Thursday. “Liverpool is not a club that needs to sell. That is set in stone. So what they pay in the end doesn’t matter.

“From a financial standpoint, there’s no threshold of pain,” he added.

Liverpool begin their 2017/18 season with a Premier League match away to Watford on Saturday, but Liverpool said on Friday that Coutinho would miss the game due to a back injury.

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