Coutinho in Liverpool 'training protest' in bid to force through Barcelona transfer

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho is trying to force Liverpool into selling him to Barcelona. The Brazil international has told Jurgen Klopp that he wishes to leave Anfield for the Catalan club, making clear his displeasure with the German’s stated position that the transfer will not happen.

Yahoo Sport understands that Coutinho has twice asked to be allowed to join Barcelona in direct discussions with Klopp. According to Liverpool sources, the 25-year-old has prepared poorly for a competitive campaign which begins on Saturday at Watford.

“Coutinho is doing little in training,” said one source. “He wants to ensure he gets his move.” The forward was omitted from Liverpool’s 23-man squad for Saturday’s friendly victory over Athletic Bilbao with what the Premier League club officially described as “a sore back”.

Liverpool last month rejected Barca’s €80million offer for an individual whom they secured to a significantly improved two-year contract extension in January. Although the Catalans are under pressure to deliver a headline signing to their support following Neymar’s forced €222m sale to Paris Saint-Germain, they are reluctant to overspend on Coutinho.

READ MORE: The contenders to replace Coutinho at Liverpool

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Barca have indicated that they will not increase their offer for the Brazilian beyond €100m, and have entered discussions with alternative targets, including Villarreal’s Italy international Roberto Soriano. Their position has provoked concern in Coutinho’s camp that an opportunity provided by Neymar’s transfer may fail to deliver the Camp Nou move long targetted by the attacking midfielder.

Liverpool entered the summer transfer window promising record investment in a squad that struggled with Klopp’s unconventional training methods and just managed to secure a Champions League play-off berth despite being unencumbered by European football. Although the club allowed itself to be associated with moves for the likes of Kylian Mbappe, just three signings – all on a considerably lower scale – have been completed to date, Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah, and Dominic Solanke.

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Coutinho's star has risen at Liverpool
Coutinho’s star has risen at Liverpool

RB Leipzig have rejected a series of bids for midfielder Naby Keita, while Liverpool were forced to publicly apologise to Southampton over their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk. Also concerned that his current employers will not sanction a move, the Netherlands defender this week requested a transfer amidst interest from Chelsea.

Ultimately, Liverpool’s American owners will make a decision on selling their most talented footballer to Barcelona for the second time in three years while finding a way of appeasing the club’s supporters over this summer’s transfer activity. In the meantime, Klopp has been forced to re-state Liverpool’s on-record position on multiple occasions.

“The word ‘not’ means there is no interpretation for that,” Klopp said last week. “It’s nothing new, is it? He is not for sale. There is no interpretation at all. If you say he is available to be sold? I don’t understand that.”

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