By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 21/07/17 8:31am
Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is not for sale.
Sky Sports News revealed on Thursday that Barcelona want to sign the Brazil international this summer and are willing to pay more than £70m.
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Coutinho pledged his future to Liverpool in January by signing a new five-and-a-half-year contract, with the deal including no release clause.
When asked in Hong Kong on Friday about Coutinho’s future, Klopp said: “That’s an interesting question, because you know my answer before.
“I have nothing to say about this, I’m sorry but obviously these stories are without my saying, so why should I disturb this process?
“Do whatever you want with this news, I am not interested. But what I can say, keeping the group together would make sense.”
Coutinho enjoyed a superb 2016/17 campaign, scoring 13 times and providing seven assists in 31 Premier League appearances as Liverpool finished fourth and secured Champions League qualification.
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When pressed if Coutinho was definitively not for sale, Klopp added: “Yes, that’s what you can say, but that’s not since this morning or yesterday, I’m not sure it was different at any time.
“Phil is a very, very important player, but we need to react better when he’s not on the pitch, that’s how it is.
“He was out for a few games [last season] and when he came back, he was not in the best shape to get back into his rhythm. With his quality, he has all the pressure to do it on the pitch. We have to be better in moments like this.
“Phil can of course improve, but there’s no doubt about his qualities. He’s in good shape, good games, good movement, very smart in both parts of the game, offensively and defensively.
“That’s really important. He’s a really good player, he’s still young and can still improve. He’s improved a lot since I’ve been here, but he was good before I was here.”
Watch Coutinho and Liverpool in action in the Premier League Asia Trophy final against Leicester live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm on Saturday.