WATFORD: Jurgen Klopp insists Philippe Coutinho’s Liverpool future will be determined by the club’s owners as Barcelona bid to land the want-away Brazil star.
Coutinho is keen to join Barcelona and the Reds forward submitted a transfer request 24 hours before Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a 3-3 draw at Watford on Saturday.
The 25-year-old, who missed the trip to Vicarage Road with a back problem, is Barcelona’s top target to replace Neymar following the Brazilian’s world record switch to Paris Saint Germain.
Barca had a £90 million (US$116 million) bid for Coutinho rejected this week, prompting the player’s decision to demand a move.
But Liverpool’s US-based owners, Fenway Sports Group, insisted in a statement on Friday that Coutinho will not be allowed to leave Anfield at any price.
Quizzed about the situation following the Watford match, Reds boss Klopp maintained Coutinho’s future is out of his hands.
“As a manager of a football club I have bosses, and if bosses decide, for example, we sell a player or we don’t sell him, then I have to accept it. If they don’t sell him, then I’m not involved anymore,” Klopp said.
“I’m responsible for all of players, not just one, two or three. I cannot say anything about it.
“The only thing is I work with the players I have, that is what I’m always doing. So how it change something for me? I didn’t make the decision.”
Asked if Coutinho’s transfer request could change the club’s stance, Klopp added: “You have to ask the club. I didn’t see the club today - those people.
“You have to ask them. But I don’t think so because I think it was pretty clear what the club, FSG, said about it.”
The Coutinho controversy added to Klopp’s frustration after Liverpool squandered the chance to claim an opening day victory by conceding a stoppage-time equaliser.
Stefano Okaka had given Watford an eighth minute lead and Abdoulaye Doucoure restored the home side’s advantage a minute after Sadio Mane’s 27th minute equaliser.
Roberto Firmino’s penalty and a debut goal from Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead early in the second half.
But Miguel Britos secured a point for Watford in the third minute of stoppage-time when he scored from what appeared to be an offside position.
Klopp was pleased with Salah’s second half display following the Egypt winger’s club record £34 million move from Roma.
“He was involved in the penalty, and scored a goal,” Klopp said. “In the beginning everyone could see he struggled a bit against Jose Holebas, a really strong man, he was a little bit too much on the wing, things like this.
“We spoke about it at half-time and second half was much better.
“We need offence in behind with the speed, not all the time but if we can do it in another space then it’s easier for us to play football there. So yes, I am fine with his contribution.”
Klopp was less impressed with Liverpool’s defending at set-pieces that led to two of Watford’s goals.
“We had our moments, then we conceded an offside goal,” he said.
“That’s really not fun. Difficult to accept. But we know we can do better and we have to do better.”
Watford manager Marco Silva introduced £18 million record signing Andre Gray from the bench and admitted there is more to come from the former Burnley forward.
“Andre Gray did only two sessions with me and he did not know very well what I want from him in the match,” Silva said.
“He is on the bench because we work the last five or six weeks to prepare for this match.”--AFP