HONG KONG • Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Liverpool are not a selling club, after rejecting an €80 million (S$127 million) bid from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho.
The Reds are adamant the Brazilian playmaker will stay at Anfield irrespective of a higher bid from the Spanish giants. Barcelona have been heavily linked with the 25-year-old since the turn of the year, but their opening offer was immediately rejected by Liverpool, who insist Coutinho is not for sale at any price.
The Brazil international is close to Barcelona duo Neymar and Luis Suarez, who made the move from Merseyside in 2014, but signed a new five-year contract with Liverpool only last season.
Coutinho's latest contract, worth around £150,000 (S$266,000) a week, does not contain a release clause and Liverpool have been prepared for a move from Barcelona, who view the player as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta.
Speaking in Hong Kong, where his side will face Leicester City in the Premier League Asia Trophy final today, Klopp said yesterday: "Phil is a very important player for us. He can improve his consistency but there is no doubt about his quality.
"I'm not surprised that any club is interested in players at Liverpool. The very important message is that we are not a selling club and that's how it is. We want to make the next step together and for this we need to stay together."
Liverpool sold Suarez to Barcelona for £75 million three years ago, and Raheem Sterling to Manchester City the following summer for £49 million, but cannot afford to sell one of their prized assets this time and undermine the progress Klopp has made.
Klopp's stance on Coutinho is similar to Red Bull Leipzig's position on Liverpool target Naby Keita, with the Bundesliga club rejecting their £66 million offer for the midfielder earlier this week.
Liverpool, however, have continued to pursue a deal for the Guinea international despite being informed directly by Leipzig officials that Keita will not be sold.
They did, however, captured their third off-season signing yesterday, after agreeing to an £8 million transfer for left-back Andrew Robertson from recently-relegated Hull City.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON