Football

Coutinho: No pre-contract agreement with Barcelona

Liverpool playmaker Phillipe Coutinho has said he has no agreement to join Barcelona next season and is committed to helping the Merseyside club achieve their ambitions.

The 25-year-old Brazil international was Barcelona's key transfer target but Liverpool rejected multiple bids from the La Liga side, saying the player was not for sale.

Coutinho made his first start of the Premier League season in a 1-1 home draw with Burnley on Saturday.

He discussed his "complicated month" for the first time in an interview with ESPN Brazil.

"What happened was a job offer and, in life, sometimes you get interested; sometimes you don't and, in my case, everyone knows that I got interested, my family too," said Coutinho.

"It's an honour to receive an offer like that, but it's also an honour to be here (at Liverpool).

"I earned my place during the last four, five years and I've never had a problem with anyone here.

"I've always respected the support very much of the groups. The players, the directors, the technical staff. And that hasn't changed at all."

When asked whether a later date was agreed for a move to Nou Camp, Coutinho replied: "No, nothing that I know of. I'm in a place where I'm very respected by everyone and I also always respect everyone.

"No. It's all done now. I'm focused on working hard and to have a good year if possible.

"In the end, I have to help my team."

Coutinho played 78 minutes against Burnley before he was substituted due to cramps.

But, while Coutinho's pledge of loyalty has given the Liverpool attack a lift, it is in defence where the Reds really need a boost now.

Juergen Klopp's side dominated against Burnley with 71 per cent possession and 35 goal attempts but had to come from behind, with Mohamed Salah rescuing a point for Klopp after mistakes had gifted Scott Arfield the opening goal for the visitors.

At the end of a week in which Liverpool also lost 5-0 at Manchester City and were held at home by Sevilla in their opening Champions League group game, Klopp was left trying to lift his frustrated team and supporters.

"It feels strange, it feels wrong but it is a fact we drew," said Klopp, who made seven changes from the Sevilla game.

"We made seven changes but we still played really fluent, offensive football, dominant football.

"It was a disciplined performance but just that one goal. This is where we have to improve." - WIRE SERVICES

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