Wed, Jan 03, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Klopp quashes talk of Coutinho sale after victory


Liverpool’s Ragnar Klavan, second left, scores against Burnley in their Premier League match at Turf Moor in Burnley, England, on Monday.

Photo: AP

Juergen Klopp on Monday insisted that Philippe Coutinho was genuinely injured for Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Burnley as he laughed off talk of the Brazilian joining Barcelona.

Coutinho missed the English Premier League fixture at Turf Moor with a thigh injury amid a backdrop of speculation over a move to the Camp Nou in this month’s transfer window.

The rumors were fueled further by pictures — subsequently removed — of a Barcelona shirt with Coutinho’s name appearing on the Web site of Nike, the Catalan club’s kit manufacturer, over the weekend.

However, Reds boss Klopp claimed there was nothing untoward behind the 25-year-old’s absence from Liverpool’s squad at Turf Moor as he responded to questions about the Nike pictures.

“I heard about it. Somebody told me and I thought: ‘Wow,’ but I couldn’t be less interested in anything in the world,” Klopp said. “Him [Coutinho] and Mohamed [Salah] are injured, not massively, but enough for today, no chance and at least a doubt for Everton.”

Despite Coutinho and Salah’s absences, defender Ragnar Klavan scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner for Liverpool after Johann Berg Gudmundsson had canceled out Sadio Mane’s opener, and Klopp was most satisfied with the fortitude shown by his defense on a day when they might have wilted against a dogged Burnley side.

“I am really happy about our attitude and character,” Klopp said. “You need to win your average games, win with attitude when you are not 100 percent. Burnley were an opponent motivated at the highest level. We needed to be ready for the wind, rain. It was cold and you need first of all concentration, you need readiness to work really hard, organization, discipline and a little bit of luck. We deserved the three points.”

Mane’s goal was his eighth of the season and Klopp praised the Senegalese for his determination when Liverpool’s top players were missing.

“Sadio is unbelievably important for us,” Klopp said. “He is strong, quick, so many things. He scores a goal like this and it is like: ‘Wow.’ He comes into the dressing room and the whole team gives him a hand. We need him, we need him so much for all teams coming. I am happy because I had a lot of players with moments where it wasn’t clicking and he still scores.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche revealed his frustration with the result, but could not fault the effort of his players.

“I thought we had done enough to earn another point,” Dyche said. “So I am frustrated with a soft goal right at the end, but impressed with the mentality overall. We were superb physically, tactically very good, particularly defensively, so much to be pleased with, but to lose like that is a horrible feeling.”

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