Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho has been left out of Liverpool’s squad for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League (UCL) play-off away to Hoffenheim.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder was not involved as Liverpool drew 3-3 away to Watford in the opening round of the Premier League season on Saturday, with manager Jurgen Klopp claiming prior to the game at Vicarage Road that a back problem was the reason for Coutinho’s exclusion.
However, speaking after the match, the German suggested apparent fitness concerns were not the only factor at play, after rumours emerged indicating Coutinho submitted a transfer request on Friday.
Klopp said: “I have to accept decisions from the owners, that’s how it is, and sometimes from players, but for this moment I just have to concentrate on my team.”
Liverpool’s owner Fenway Sports Group last week released a statement insisting they would not consider any offers for Coutinho, with Barca reportedly having had a bid of €100million turned down as they seek to replace Brazil forward Neymar, who moved to Paris Saint-German for a world-record fee of €222m.
It remains to be seen if Coutinho will leave Anfield for Camp Nou before the transfer window shuts on August 31.
But the former Inter star was not named among the 22-man squad picked to travel to Germany for today’s showdown at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.