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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said it is not his decision whether Philippe Coutinho stays at the club.
The German spoke after the Reds’ 3-3 draw with Watford on Saturday, in which Coutinho did not feature, and said the Brazilian’s future lies with those above him at the club, per ESPN FC:
ESPN FC @ESPNFC
When asked about Coutinho today, Jurgen Klopp made it clear he is not the boss.
Full video: https://t.co/UWWWJr4S8W https://t.co/Mq8EmxaGCc
B/R Football @brfootball
Did Jurgen Klopp just say it? #Coutinho https://t.co/hXEO23fsQS
According to Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo, Klopp continued: “If they don’t sell him, then I am not involved any more. I’m responsible for all of our players, not just one or two or three, but all of them.”
Per Sky Sports News, the playmaker handed in a transfer request on Friday:
Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews
WATCH: @Phil_Coutinho hands @LFC an official transfer request – Sky sources. More here: https://t.co/1i6TQVOfpV https://t.co/YcGdbdY0b4
Doyle reported the request came following two failed bids for his services from Barcelona, who are expected to make another offer. The Reds’ owners have thus far held firm and released a statement prior to the request making clear they are adamant he will not be sold.
Klopp expects that to remain the case: “I don’t think (it changes anything). It was pretty clear what the club said about it. That’s all.”
The Blaugrana are in need of reinforcements in midfield and a replacement for Neymar, and while Coutinho would be a strong choice who could help in either regard despite some lingering concerns over his consistency.
His departure would be a real blow for the Reds, though.
Liverpool writer Leanne Prescott noted the Brazilian was missed against Watford:
Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne
Definitely need to sign a midfielder this summer. Real lack of creativity without Coutinho.
Klopp is hoping to add more bodies in the middle even if Coutinho stays. According to the Echo‘s James Pearce, he said:
“We don’t have too many midfield players in the moment who have experience.
“Are we looking still for players? Yes. That is the truth. But we were looking for players before Adam was injured. Now he is injured and Phil is injured so we have two less.
“It doesn’t make the situation more comfortable. You cannot be really prepared for situations like this but we have time.”
The need is slightly less pressing if they keep Coutinho, but another creative option could be useful to give the Reds further depth.
Even more important is the need to improve Liverpool’s defensive options after their frailties were on display yet again on Saturday, but it’s clear the coming weeks will have a significant impact on their season.