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Coutinho, 25, was the subject of a month-long pursuit from Barcelona after they lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain but with Coutinho handing in a transfer request and said to be suffering from a back injury, the Brazilian did not get his move to the Nou Camp.
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s trip to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp revealed why he has decided to leave Coutinho — who is fit again as he made two substitute appearances for Brazil over the international break — out of the squad to face Man City.
“We had a very good talk and he was in a very good mood. Training was even better. But I had to make a decision. We have seven games in the next three weeks so there will never be time to train, really,” Klopp said. “We had this conversation and before he went to Brazil he couldn’t train for around three weeks so that means we have to now try to prepare him for the rest of the season.
“That is quite difficult with our fixtures and schedule. I decided to leave him out of the squad for City so we can use this four to five days for real and proper training. We got all the numbers from the Brazilian FA about the intensity of training and stuff like this, so it was all okay. He played twice for around 15-20 minutes and he could have played 15-20 minutes again in the City game, maybe longer, but it makes sense. He agreed completely and he didn’t say ‘I don’t need training and want to play’ it was a good conversation.”
Yes, fitness may be a concern but this is more likely a ploy from Klopp to carefully reintegrate Coutinho back into first team action and send out a message that he has to be back up to speed and earn his place in the team.
Despite his obvious talents for Liverpool, the Reds are doing just fine going forward without him as Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah continue to rip it up with seven points from nine to open the season and a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage sealed.
That said, Coutinho’s importance to Liverpool is clear and making sure he is okay mentally, as well as physically, will be key in how both parties move forward.