Football

Klopp keeps mum on Coutinho's future

Juergen Klopp has described Liverpool as being "in a good shape" ahead of the new season - while keeping quiet about Philippe Coutinho's future.

Speaking yesterday as the club announced Western Union as their shirt sleeve sponsor, Klopp gave an upbeat summary of how he was feeling about preparations for the new campaign.

But he did not make any specific reference to Coutinho, the Reds playmaker who continues to be linked with Barcelona, and exited the media event before it was opened up for questions.

Barca had a £72 million (S$128m) bid for the Brazil international rejected in July and, having subsequently sold his compatriot Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record £200.6m, are reportedly stepping up their pursuit of the 25-year-old.

Klopp last week reiterated his stance that Coutinho was not for sale, although some reports have already suggested that Coutinho will be unveiled as a Barca player tomorrow.

Liverpool completed their pre-season matches by beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in Dublin on Saturday, with Coutinho one of a number of players missing due to illness and niggles.

The Merseyside outfit begin their Premier League campaign by taking on Watford away on Saturday, then travel to Germany for Wednesday morning's (Singapore time) Champions League qualifying play-off first leg against Hoffenheim.

Klopp said: "When we finished last season in fourth position everybody was really happy about it - it was really a good result for a big effort.

FIRST CHALLENGE

"We knew also there would be a qualification game, and now it is coming up. But the first challenge we have to face is playing Watford, even though everybody is thinking about the Champions League qualifiers.

"So Watford is the first target, and we have a few more days to prepare for this game.

"We are in a good shape. The players are in a good mood, the attitude in all the training sessions was really good - yes, there have been one or two little injuries and one bigger (Adam Lallana's thigh problem), but that is how life is.

"We showed it in Dublin again that we are in a good shape. So everything is in a good way - but of course now we have to deliver, and we know that, so we are ready for it.

"The freshness is coming back. We are really excited." 
- PA SPORT

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