Jürgen Klopp shrugged off Barcelona’s interest in Philippe Coutinho as he insisted he did not care that shirts with the Brazilian’s name on it had been advertised by the Catalan club’s kit manufacturers.
Liverpool rejected a £118m bid from the Spanish league leaders for the playmaker in the summer but speculation has continued and a listing appeared on Nike’s website this weekend saying that Coutinho was “ready to light up Camp Nou”.
The 25-year-old, who is a Nike client, did not feature in August when Barcelona bid for him, because of a back problem and missed Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day with a minor thigh injury that could keep him out of Friday’s Merseyside derby in the FA Cup third round.
But Klopp pronounced himself unworried by the latest indication that Barcelona may renew their interest in Coutinho, saying: “I couldn’t be less interested in anything in the world but somebody told me and I thought ‘wow’.”
Mohamed Salah also sat out the victory at Turf Moor, which was earned by Ragnar Klavan’s 94th-minute goal, and Klopp said the Egyptian is “at least a doubt for Everton. Both [Salah and Coutinho] are injured, not massively but enough.”
The manager defended Liverpool’s decision to allow Salah and Sadio Mané, who scored the opener at Turf Moor, to go to Ghana on Thursday. Both forwards, who will travel on a private plane, are on a three-man shortlist for the African Player of the Year award and Klopp rejected suggestions it is not ideal preparation for an FA Cup tie against Sam Allardyce’s side as he said it would have been disrespectful to force them to stay in England.
“We have everything organised,” he said. “We have two of the three best African players in our squad. We have to show them respect. If it had been a matchday, they wouldn’t have asked. We sleep in a hotel, they sleep in a plane. That is all the difference. If Mo is not fit, it will not be for that. For our side it is just a sign of respect. I know it, I had [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang [at Borussia Dortmund] and there is nothing more important than to go there.”
Mané’s fine opener just after the hour was equalised by Johann Berg Gudmundsson three minutes from time, before Klavan’s close-range winner.