Why Liverpool will not sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona
Reds emphatic in rejecting £72m offer from Spain - and this time no really does mean no
Liverpool have come out fighting after Barcelona made a bid of £72m for playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
Manager Jurgen Klopp dismissed the offer with a warning to the Spanish giants that Liverpool are "not a selling club".
He also said there were no circumstances under which the Reds would change their minds.
Barcelona want the Brazilian to replace the ageing Andres Iniesta and are aware the player harbours long-term ambitions to play at the Camp Nou. The 25-year-old is also friends with international teammate Neymar and former Reds striker Luis Suarez, both of whom play for the Catalan side.
However, he appears settled on Merseyside and signed a new five-year contract at Anfield last year. Liverpool can also offer Champions League football next season.
"The absence of a release clause in the contract gives Liverpool control over the player's future, although they will be mindful of Coutinho's head having been turned by the interest despite his apparent happiness on Merseyside," says The Times.
"Liverpool's message that there are no circumstances in which they will cave in is interesting and a position they hope will not be put to the test."
But Barcelona may be in a position to offer a huge fee, says Sky Sports.
It claims that in the unlikely event Neymar joins Paris Saint-Germain for a fee of £196m, Barca would "have considerable money to spend".
"No" does not always mean "no" in the "murky" transfer market, he adds, but "supporters concerned that Barcelona, like Real Madrid, usually get what they want can at least feel some reassurance that the message from Anfield is not part of some bargaining strategy".
Liverpool have been emphatic and it is easy to see why, he adds. Each time they have threatened to rejoin the English elite in recent seasons, they have lost a key player.
In 2009, it was Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, while five years later, Luis Suarez jumped ship to Barcelona.
Selling Coutinho "would undermine the last two seasons of progress since Klopp joined as Liverpool sit on the threshold of a return to the Champions League".
However, the Reds' stance could have a negative impact on other deals, continues the journalist."A bigger headache for Liverpool is when supporters of RB Leipzig and Southampton read all the sentiments expressed above.
"They can argue passionately and justifiably the same arguments apply should any more bids materialise for Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk."