Klopp warns Barca off Liverpool playmaker Coutinho
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp yesterday brushed off a reported £72 million (S$127.8m) offer from Barcelona for Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
Ahead of today's Premier League Asia Trophy final against Leicester City in Hong Kong, he said: "We're not a selling club. We want to work together and we want to make the next step, and to do this we need to stay together.
"The very important message is that we are not a selling club."
As Barcelona circle for Coutinho, Reds midfielder Adam Lallana backed the mercurial Brazilian to help lead the Reds to success in the new season.
"He's a fantastic player, so it's no surprise that there are teams interested in him," said Lallana.
"I feel like we're going to achieve big things and that Phil is going to be a big part of that.
"He's in that elite bracket and there is no reason he can't continue to be in that elite bracket and continue here at Liverpool.
"We're a massive club. We're in the Champions League - okay we need to qualify - but if we are going to win competitions like that, and the Premier League, we need to keep hold of players like Philippe."
Fan favourite Coutinho signed a new five-year contract at Anfield in January that did not include a release clause.
"He can improve his consistency, but there is no doubt about his quality," Klopp said of the 25-year-old.
"He's a really good player, and the nice thing is he's still young and he can improve. Phil is a very, very important player."
Klopp, whose side beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in midweek in their first run-out in Hong Kong, was less keen to discuss Liverpool's pursuit of RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita.
The German club rejected a £66m bid for the Guinea star from Liverpool earlier this week.
"I have nothing to say about this," said Klopp.
"Obviously these stories are without my saying, so why should I disturb this process? Do whatever you want with this news, I'm not interested. But keeping the group together would make sense."
In fact, the Reds have added to this group yesterday, with the signing of Scotland left back Andy Robertson from Hull City.
Meanwhile, Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare revealed his club had received an offer for Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez from Roma.
"It was politely declined on the basis that it was a low offer," said Shakespeare, who watched his team overcome West Bromwich Albion on penalties earlier this week.
"What that offer is I don't know. Riyad is a Leicester player and, until we hear otherwise, we expect him to perform at the standard we set." - AFP