Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has put thoughts of want-away Philippe Coutinho out of his mind as he concentrates on the vitally-important Champions League play-off against Hoffenheim.
The Brazil international submitted a transfer request on Friday just a couple of hours after club owners Fenway Sports Group issued a statement insisting he would not be sold after two unsuccessful bids from Barcelona.
Coutinho is currently sidelined with a back injury which has delayed his start to the new season — he did not travel with the squad to Germany — and Klopp insists until the 25-year-old is fit again he cannot waste time thinking about him and his position.
“There’s nothing to say about it. I really understand everybody is interested in it, but at this moment I’m not thinking about it,” he said.
“I will answer questions but I’m not in the car, on the way to this press conference, thinking, ‘If they ask this question, what can I say?’, because I have to think about the (training) session in a few minutes.
“It was always like this. I work with the players I have, I don’t think about the players I don’t have at the moment.
“I think I’ve said everything you can say about it, if you want to ask do, but I have no more answers.
“He cannot play for Liverpool in this moment and that’s quite a blow for us.”
Coutinho dominated proceedings in Hoffenheim despite being more than 700 miles away on Merseyside.
With just over two weeks remaining of the transfer window Liverpool are adamant he will not be leaving despite suggestions growing of the player’s discontent.
Captain Jordan Henderson admits despite his position he is powerless to effect the way Coutinho, who has become an integral part of the team, is thinking.
“It is obviously a difficult situation for Phil. Whatever I say will not help the situation but as players, we are fully focused on the game,” he said.
“As players, you expect things in the transfer window to happen and players come and go.
“Of course, if you ask everyone, they want Phil to stay as he is a world class player. I am close to him and I have a lot of respect for him but everything that happens is nothing to do with me.”
The Coutinho issued continues to overshadow a pivotal week for Klopp’s side.
Having finished fourth last season they knew they would have to face a play-off to make the Champions League proper but being drawn against Hoffenheim, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga, presents a difficult task.
Victory in the tie is worth an initial £13m (€14.3m) and should they make the group stage Liverpool would expect to receive at least £35m (€38.5m).
Klopp did offer some good news on the fitness of Daniel Sturridge but, unfortunately for him, it will not help him in Germany.
“(Sturridge) is in a good way. We had a talk this morning, he is really close, he looked good yesterday,” said the Reds boss.
“Two more sessions and he will be available for the weekend.”
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