LONDON: Liverpool, with the new Premier League season starting tomorrow, have rejected a renewed Barcelona bid for playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
The Reds are said to have dismissed a £90million offer from the Catalan giants, who have money to burn after selling Neymar to Paris St Germain for world-record figure last week.
Barca had already had a £72million offer for the Brazilian turned down, with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp going on record to say his prize asset is not for sale.
Coutinho joined Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5million in 2013 and signed a new five-year deal in January. Despite struggling with an ankle injury last season, he still scored 14 goals and remains a key part of Klopp’s squad for the campaign ahead.
Rumours of a possible move to Barcelona were heightened last week when Coutinho was left out of the Reds’ squad for a pre-season trip to Bilbao.
But Klopp stressed the midfielder was merely suffering from a minor back injury which is also expected to rule him out of Saturday’s Premier League opener at Watford.
Klopp, speaking as the club announced Western Union as their shirt sleeve sponsor, Klopp gave an upbeat summary of how he was feeling about preparations for the new campaign.
But he did not make any specific reference to Coutinho and exited the media event before it was opened up for questions.
Klopp said: “When we finished last season in fourth position everybody was really happy about it – it was really a good result for a big effort.
“We knew also there would be a qualification game, and now it is coming up. But the first challenge we have to face is playing Watford, even though everybody is thinking about the Champions League qualifiers.
“So Watford is the first target, and we have a few more days to prepare for this game.
“We are in a good shape. The players are in a good mood, the attitude in all the training sessions was really good – yes, there have been one or two little injuries and one bigger (Adam Lallana’s thigh problem), but that is how life is.
“We showed it in Dublin again that we are in a good shape. So everything is in a good way – but of course now we have to deliver, and we know that, so we are ready for it.
“The freshness is coming back. We are really excited.”
Liverpool have signed a five-year partnership with Western Union which sees the money transfer company become the club’s first shirt sleeve sponsor.
Western Union is also becoming an ”official principal partner and the official money transfer partner” of the club.
At Wednesday’s event, Liverpool’s commercial director Olly Dale was asked about the club possibly striking naming rights deals.
He suggested one for the training ground could happen ”at some stage in the future maybe”, while emphasising Liverpool are ”not an organisation that is in the marketplace for a stadium naming rights deal”.
Dale also said a naming rights deal for the Main Stand at Anfield was ”not an immediate priority”.