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Dublin: 2 °C Monday 19 March, 2018

Coutinho? I prefer my players, says Barca coach

Ernesto Valverde insists the Liverpool star has not been occupying his thoughts lately.

Ernesto Valverde (file pic).
Ernesto Valverde (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

BARCELONA COACH ERNESTO Valverde shrugged off speculation over an imminent swoop for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho on Wednesday by insisting: “I prefer the players I currently have in the team.”

Brazilian international forward Coutinho has been linked with a 150 million euro (£134 million) switch to the Spanish giants in the current transfer window just as he was when the English side thwarted a series of approaches from Barca last summer.

“I have nothing to say on the subject of Coutinho, he isn’t one of our players,” said Valverde.

“He is at another team and we respect the fact that he is at another team. He is a great player and we don’t know what is going to happen in the future.

“However, I much prefer the players that I currently have in my team and they are the ones who concern me.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has also refused to get caught up in the feverish speculation over the 25-year-old’s immediate future.

Rumours of a move to the Camp Nou were fuelled by pictures -– subsequently removed — of a Barcelona shirt with Coutinho’s name appearing on the website of Nike, the Catalan club’s kit manufacturer, over the weekend.

“I heard about it. Somebody told me and I thought ‘wow’. But I couldn’t be less interested in anything in the world!” Klopp said.

- © AFP, 2018

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