LONDON (AFP) - Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp refused to be drawn on the future of Philippe Coutinho on Thursday (Jan 4) as speculation escalates about another Barcelona bid for the Brazilian forward.
Coutinho handed in a transfer request in a bid to force Klopp to sell him before the summer transfer deadline but Liverpool refused to budge even in the face of offers of over £100 million (S$180 million) from Barca.
The Brazilian is out of Friday's FA Cup Merseyside derby at home to Everton with a thigh strain, but Klopp expects the Brazil international to be available to face Premier League leaders Manchester City on Jan 14.
"I think he is in a bunch of available players for the City game," said Klopp.
"All the things I could say now will only create stories. I have nothing to say about it."
Despite another injury to Coutinho coinciding with the opening of the transfer window - he missed the whole of August with a back problem - Klopp is already looking towards the City game to bring him back and dodged both the transfer speculation and reports that the player believes he has played his last match for the Reds.
"I opened the door half-way because I mentioned it was the transfer window but there is nothing I can say about it which would help me, the player or the club."
In August, the club's owners publicly stated that Liverpool would not sell the Brazilian. There has been no such declaration so far this winter, and a bid has yet to materialise from Spain despite growing talk of another move for the playmaker.
Asked whether he had to consider the possibility of having to replace Coutinho in January, Klopp added: "Whatever you can consider it is not my cup of tea. I really have nothing to say. Maybe 80 per cent of the cameras are here for these answers - that's a waste of time."
Both Coutinho and top scorer Mohamed Salah, out with a groin injury, will miss the visit of Everton but the match could see a debut for £75 million signing Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutch international completed his move from Southampton on Jan 1 but Klopp is in no rush to send out the world's most expensive defender.
"I can imagine everyone is desperate to see him on the pitch but from our point of view there is no rush and it is much more important how many good games he can play for us," said Klopp.
Loris Karius will start in goal with Simon Mignolet given the weekend off.