Jurgen Klopp says he will not have to sell to balance the books following the pending £75million arrival of Virgil van Dijk — but stopped short of ruling out a departure for Philippe Coutinho.
Liverpool will break a world record for a defender when the 26-year-old Dutchman signs from Southampton on Monday. The size of that fee has led to concerns that Brazil playmaker Coutinho, the subject of a failed summer £115m bid from Barcelona, is set to leave.
But Klopp says that is not the situation. ‘Nobody told me that,’ he said when asked if Van Dijk’s arrival meant Coutinho was on his way. ‘I have no information about that. No.’
Klopp was also asked why he would not make a statement saying Coutinho would not be leaving the club, with Barcelona rumoured to be on the verge of making another bid.
‘There is nothing to say,’ he responded. ‘The only thing I am interested in is how Phil is playing at the moment. I was really happy about the last few performances and about his impact.
‘He showed his character in the games and in the training sessions. That was spot on. That is what I am interested in because all the rest I can’t, and don’t, want to talk about — because if I open the door then you run all the way through.’
Klopp, whose fourth-placed side entertain Leicester City today, explained his seemingly cautious approach. ‘In my business it makes absolutely no sense to talk about things that “could”, “maybe” happen because all it does is create stories which 90 per cent of the time are not true,’ he explained. ‘Why should we do that?’
Meanwhile, the manager hailed Rhian Brewster, his 17-year-old academy starlet who has claimed that racism is widespread in youth football, and on Friday delivered a harrowing account of the abuse he has received.
Klopp believes that Brewster, whose goals helped England win the Under 17 World Cup in India in October, was right to bring the problem to light. ‘I’m really happy he is brave enough to do what he did because it’s such an important thing,’ he said.
‘I can’t believe people still have these kind of thoughts in their mind. It’s so strange in this world. We needed a 17-year-old boy to shout out today, “Here, it’s still happening and it’s happening all the time — I need help, we need help to stop it”. It’s not a situation you want a 17-year-old boy to be in.’
Klopp added that officials should play their part in ending racism on the pitch. ‘The refs need to be aware and even more focused,’ he said. ‘It is important we are talking about it in a serious, common sense way.’