London (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho has been left out of Liverpool’s squad to face Manchester City this weekend over his fitness but manager Jurgen Klopp said the Brazilian did nothing “unforgivable” during Barcelona’s pursuit of him.
The playmaker, who returned from international duty this week, was linked with a move to the Catalan giants following the departure of his compatriot Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain but Liverpool refused to budge.
Coutinho has not yet played for Liverpool this season, with the club citing a back injury, but he joined up with his national side for World Cup qualifiers and made two substitute appearances against Ecuador and Colombia, scoring against the former.
That, however, has not been enough to prove his fitness to Klopp, who stressed that fitness was the only reason why the 25-year-old would not be lining up at the Etihad on Saturday.
“I can explain it a little — maybe a few of you have had a split in a good relationship, with your wife or whatever, and it is not good to think about the time you were split,” said Klopp.
“It was not the most easy time, but that is the transfer window. It is not the first time and it won’t be the last time in history when similar things will happen.”
“I really think we handled it really well,” Klopp added. “Not all the things in newspapers were 100 percent right but it is normal a lot of things were coming up in a situation like this.
“But nothing I am aware of was unforgivable. The most important thing is no one told me anything where I thought ‘Oh, that is too much’.
“He came in yesterday, accepted 100 percent the situation — I didn’t even have to say anything about it.”
Klopp praised Coutinho’s attitude, saying he was in a good mood and training had been positive.
“Before he went to Brazil he couldn’t train for about three weeks so that means we need to try to prepare him for the rest of the season and that is quite difficult with our schedule,” said Klopp.
“So I decided to leave him out of the squad for City so we can use these four or five days for proper training.”
Liverpool, who thumped Arsenal 4-0 in their last match before the international break, are second in the Premier League after three matches, with two wins and a draw.
Pep Guardiola’s big-spending City have the same number of points but trail Liverpool on goal difference.
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