Paul Joyce - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/sport/barcas-72m-coutinho-bid-q0h7n2jrn
Liverpool insisted last night that Philippe Coutinho was not for sale at any price after Barcelona bid £72 million for the Brazil playmaker.
The Catalan giants have tracked Coutinho for the past six months but Liverpool maintain that their talisman, who signed a new five-year contract last season, will not be allowed to leave even if Barcelona return with a higher offer.
The 25-year-old is viewed as a potential replacement for Andrés Iniesta, 33, who is entering the final year of his contract at the Nou Camp, but the move comes at a time when Paris Saint-Germain are trying to sign Neymar, the Barcelona forward, in what would be a record deal.
Jürgen Klopp has repeatedly impressed upon Coutinho the importance he has in his plans and that the club would not sell him.
Coutinho, who is friends with Neymar and Luis Suárez, the former Liverpool striker who joined Barcelona in 2014 for £75 million, became the club’s top-earning player on about £150,000 a week when he signed a new deal January.
The absence of a release clause in the contract gives Liverpool control over the player’s future and, speaking in May, Klopp said that he was “completely relaxed” about Barcelona’s public courtship of Coutinho.
“When did he sign his new contract? So that would be a nice idea [to sell him],” the Liverpool manager had said sarcastically before the end of last season.
“There are absolutely no plans. What our owners say is there is the absolute opportunity not to sell anybody if we do not want to.”
Liverpool’s position is the one that RB Leipzig have adopted in their attempts to prevent Klopp from signing Naby Keïta.
The Bundesliga side have rejected bids of £57 million and £66 million from Liverpool for the Guinea midfielder