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10th Jan, 2017 | 1:00pm

Jurgen Klopp issues hands-off, 24-year-old Liverpool star going nowhere

By Emma Sanders

Jurgen Klopp has insisted Philippe Coutinho is not for sale, as speculation continues to mount that Barcelona are interested in his signature.

The Spanish giants have been linked with the forward for over a year now and with the transfer window open, Liverpool fans are fearing a battle to fend off interest in their star player.

The 24-year-old has been out of action since the end of November after he picked up an ankle injury during the 2-0 victory against Sunderland and Klopp claims that will not have put off teams like Barcelona but he vows Coutinho is not going anywhere.

As reported by The Mirror, Klopp has said: “We never had any ideas or plans or any talks about him [Coutinho] leaving. It would be nice if big clubs forgot about a player completely because he’s been injured for five or six weeks.”

“I’m not sure it’s like this though, but he is our player and that is it.”

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Coutinho has been excellent for the Reds since joining in 2013 and he is considered one of the club’s most important players.

Already this season Coutinho has notched up five goals and fives assists in his first 13 appearances in the Premier League and formed a terrific attacking trio with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

He’s shone on the international stage this season too – scoring two goals and grabbing an assist for Brazil during the October and November breaks before picking up the lengthy injury.

He is expected to make his return against Southampton on Wednesday evening and could be in line to start the clash against Manchester United on the weekend.

Football Insider verdict: 

Every footballer has a price, but it’s fantasy football to think that Klopp would entertain a move for Philippe Coutinho in the winter transfer window. Barcelona might well want him – which team wouldn’t – but they’re not going to get him in January as Klopp has made clear, and an official offer would be highly surprising. Big teams will continue to make covert overtures because they know at some point the time will be right and Liverpool will cash in on a truly world-class player. Will that be this January? in a word, no. 

In other Liverpool news, here are three key battles ahead of the Southampton clash.