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Oxlade-Chamberlain: Coutinho loss won't affect Liverpool

Published in England Premier League
Friday, 12 January 2018 08:41

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is confident Liverpool are well-equipped for life without Philippe Coutinho, insisting it is "business as usual" at Anfield.

The Brazil playmaker, who contributed 12 goals this season, completed his dream £142million move to Barcelona on Monday to leave a significant hole in Jurgen Klopp's side.

However, Oxlade-Chamberlain, who experienced key personnel like Robin van Persie leave when he was at Arsenal, believes he and the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can help fill the void without too much disruption.

And the first chance to prove that is at home to runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.

"I haven't really even thought about Phil leaving," he said.

"You realise it happens but you can't start thinking 'What are we going to do now that Phil is not here?'

"It can't be that at all. It's business as usual.
"When Phil wasn't in the team we still played great football and we have still amazing players who can score goals - the likes of Mo (Salah), Sadio, Roberto.

"The fact is he has gone now and we have to think 'What have we got that is going to get the job done?'.

"I have every faith in the boys that we just move on now. I don't think it should affect us at all.

"When a big player leaves, a big player leaves. You're at a big club like Liverpool, another big player will come in the future.

"I wish Phil all the very best but the only thing I'm concentrating on is Liverpool and winning as many games as we can - starting with Man City on Sunday."

With Liverpool at this moment unlikely to buy a replacement in the January transfer window, Coutinho's departure provides an opening for Oxlade-Chamberlain and others to secure more regular football.

After a testing start to his Anfield career, having arrived on the final day of the August window, the England international is starting to show the sort of form that persuaded Klopp to spend £35m on him.

"Of course it's an opportunity for me, just as it is for all the rest of the boys who want to play there," he added.

"It is our job to keep the wheels moving and momentum going.
"I am the type of person who relishes the chance to stand up and perform under pressure, I have had to do that my whole career.

"I was at a big club previously and being at big one now, you know you are always going to have to perform under pressure."

Oxlade-Chamberlain faced growing criticism in his first few months as he adapted to a new playing style under Klopp.

However, he insists he ignored the doubters as he had total faith in himself and his manager.

"There was a lot of controversy and talk, maybe it's a time when you just want to get your head down and settle in," he said.

"There's a lot of noise around what's happening and that can make things a bit difficult.

"I didn't mind too much people talking because I knew that's what would happen.

"Once you clear that ridge and focus on getting your head down and playing more, I feel that's where I am now."

Barcelona new boy Philippe Coutinho: I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 13:30

New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho has told Liverpool fans he hopes they understand why he left for the Nou Camp in a £142million switch.

The 25-year-old Brazilian's five-year stint at Anfield ended at the weekend when Barca finally struck an agreement with the Reds, making Coutinho the second most-expensive player of all time after they were paid an initial £105m up front.
Liverpool had rejected Barca's bids last summer, despite Coutinho's desire to force through the transfer, but having finally sealed his move in this window the outgoing playmaker has posted a message to Reds supporters on his Instagram account.
"Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool, me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends," he wrote.

"On the pitch and off the pitch, we have experienced the beauty of this club and its fans. In turn, I hope I have delivered memories and moments that have brought happiness to the Liverpool supporters.

"Moving to Liverpool, I knew the club's greatness and history but what I did learn during my time was the unique heart and soul of the place. It has its own personality and character.

"I leave Liverpool because Barcelona is a dream for me. Liverpool was a dream that I was fortunate enough to realise and I have given five years of my life to it. A career on the pitch only lasts for so long and to play for Barcelona as well as Liverpool is something I want to experience and enjoy while I am blessed enough to be able to do so.

"I hope the supporters understand that choosing to experience something new is not about diminishing their importance to me or the club's importance. Nothing will ever diminish that in my heart.

"I wish Jurgen (Klopp) and the team nothing but joy and success for the rest of this season and beyond. This is an amazing team and they are getting better and better all the time."

Coutinho ended the post by addressing Reds supporters directly, adding: "I can never thank you enough for what you have given me during this time and no matter where I go in the world, for the rest of my life, I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart. You, the club and the city will always be a part of me."
Barcelona's latest signing was unveiled on Monday but a thigh injury that kept him out of Liverpool's last two games will also delay his debut for his new club.

In another Instagram post that contained multiple images of him in a Barca shirt, Coutinho said: "A Dream Come True thank you Barcelona. I can't wait to start my journey with you!"

 

HOW NEYMAR'S TRANSFER ALLOWED BARCELONA TO BUY COUTINHO AS PART OF €307M SPENDING SPREE

Published in Football Transfers
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 07:40

The Brazilian became the world's third-most expensive player with his transfer to Camp Nou on Saturday - but how did the Blaugrana fund the deal?
Five months after his move to Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar is still a significant presence at Barcelona. He is no longer scoring goals for the Catalan club, of course, but his world-record €222 million move has allowed the Blaugrana to spend in excess of €300m over successive transfer windows for the first time in their history.

Quite simply, without the sale of Neymar, the subsequent signings of former Borussia Dortmund starlet Ousmane Dembele and ex-Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho would have been impossible.

Even though Barca have spent significant sums in recent years, the Catalans had never previously undertaken such an outlay: a grand total of €307m on six players – Dembele (€105m), Coutinho (€120m), Paulinho (€40m), Nelson Semedo (€30m) and Gerard Deulofeu (€12m).It is worth noting that the €5m signing of Marlon Santos from Fluminense was agreed before June 30 and, thus, was not included in Barca's summer transfer budget.

However, must also remember that as well as splashing €307m in fees, Barca have also agreed to clauses that could see them hand over an additional €40m in bonuses for both Coutinho and Dembele, meaning they could end up paying €160m and €145m for the pair, respectively, while there is also a potential €5m to be tagged on to the deal with Benfica for right-back Semedo.

Nevertheless, the financial impact has been much less severe than those figures indicate - and all because Barca received the vast sum of €222m when PSG agreed to pay Neymar's release clause last August.Of that income, Barca put €198m into their budget for new transfers, with the other €24m used for repayments and other costs.

Taking that into account, the Blaugrana have a net transfer spend of €114m across the past two windows, which is not too far above their original transfer budget at the beginning of last summer.

Therefore, it is clear that Neymar's sale allowed for the arrival of Dembele and also Coutinho, who accepted giving up part of his salary at Liverpool so that the Reds would belatedly agree to his transfer to Barcelona.In addition, Liverpool should not have any problems in receiving the funds from Barca, because the Liga leaders have enough money to pay for Coutinho, largely thanks to the sale of Neymar.

However, Barca may need to plan again for the future as there is now nothing left from the Neymar money and next summer will start with multi-million payments due in variables to both the Reds and Borussia Dortmund for the transfers of Coutinho and Dembele, respectively, as well as Benfica (as part of the Semedo deal).

Still, with Coutinho having now been added to a side presently nine points clear at the top of La Liga, Barca will be confident that their historic investment in their playing squad will reap huge dividends.

Barcelona signed Philippe Coutinho after Liverpool dropped '£176m asking price'

Published in Spain Primera Division
Tuesday, 09 January 2018 10:07

Barcelona signed midfielder Philippe Coutinho because they were given a significant discount on the price Liverpool were asking for him in the last transfer window, vice-president Jordi Mestre said on Monday.

Coutinho became the third most expensive player in football history when he signed a five-and-a-half year contract with Barca on Monday following a £142 million deal between the clubs.
Barcelona director Albert Soler said in September the club abandoned their pursuit of the Brazilian playmaker last year because Liverpool were asking for 200 million euros (around £176m).

It seems the reduction in the asking price for the Brazilian was as much as £34 million.
"The club has always been interested in signing Coutinho, the difference to last summer is that there was a big cut in price," Mestre told reporters on Monday at Coutinho's official presentation.

"We won't state the numbers because Liverpool don't want us to, but there was a big price cut."

Philippe Coutinho's departure to Barcelona demonstrates La Liga's superiority

Published in England Premier League
Sunday, 07 January 2018 09:36

Philippe Coutinho's transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona has shown La Liga continues to dominate the Premier League for the best talent.

It was half a season. Just half a season. That half a season was all that Liverpool could put up in defence against Barcelona, when they came for Philippe Coutinho. We were told that Liverpool would only sell when they wanted to sell, and that FSG would back Jurgen Klopp with what he wanted.
Well, we should assume that he didn’t want to sell Coutinho, because he was his best player by a distance. Liverpool have other exciting players, but none with Coutinho's skill. Despite that, FSG and Klopp will see him sold to Barcelona for what could be £140 million. A decent price, but one that shows that despite recent spending, the Premier League is still well behind La Liga.
It began with the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United to Real Madrid. He left what remains the most popular and richest league in the world, to go for a raise and the promise of glory elsewhere. It took a few years for him to be proven right, but he claimed two Champions League, and two Liga titles. There may be more to follow if Zinedine Zidane can put his side on track.

Others followed. Luka Modric left Spurs for Real. Luis Suarez decided he would prefer life in Barcelona to life in the north west of England. Gareth Bale turned down United to go to Spain from Spurs. From Germany Toni Kroos had the chance to go to Manchester United but went to Madrid instead.

The players who left from Spain, like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alvaro Morata and Angel Di Maria, came only because they were no longer wanted at the two big clubs in Spain. David de Gea would have left United if only there was someone on hand to properly work the transfer software at Old Trafford.
The Premier League earns the most money for all of its clubs, but Barcelona and Real Madrid are only challenged in the money leagues by United. Manchester City have their own peculiar funding from the start of Abu Dhabi, and United are hamstrung by the Glazer ownership.

City have relatively little tradition but plenty of excess money – United have the inverse. The surfeit will be claimed by their owners unless the top four finish is imperilled. Compare that to Barcelona and Real Madrid, where there are riches, trophies and sunny weather. It makes no sense for the best players to focus on anything except moving to Spain.

Coutinho didn’t play for City or United, so there was no promise of great wages or great success.

As talented as Klopp is, his club does not have the money to compete over wages, nor do they have the budget to compete for the Premier League. They have plenty of trophies from the past, and they will often finish in the Champions League places, but given the entrenched advantages of City, United and Chelsea, there is nowhere for them to go.
The Premier League is the richest in the world. It offers the best wages for those players just below the best. But Coutinho has shown that when the glamour of Spain approaches, Barcelona and Real Madrid can only be resisted for so long.

The Premier League might boast De Gea, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard and others, but it can’t be ignored that it is only because the Clasico teams have let them stay in England – for now.

Philippe Coutinho praises Jurgen Klopp influence

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 10:59

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has credited manager Juergen Klopp with making him a more complete player and says a positional switch has made him feel more involved in games.

The 25-year-old was Liverpool's leading scorer last season with 14 goals in all competitions and the Brazilian's influence on games has grown this campaign after he switched to a deeper role.

"I think the way he's helped me to play when we don't have the ball, when the team is under pressure, is really different," Coutinho told the club's official website. 

"We've changed how we play. We've tried to switch to a different style and I think that, bit-by-bit, I'm getting better with that and hopefully that can continue.

"I'm now in a deeper position and I'm always trying to improve, and be able to score goals and set off moves, because my position demands it," added Coutinho, who has scored nine goals in 15 domestic and European appearances so far.

"You become more involved in the game. It's a position that I feel that I've adapted to and I like it."

Liverpool, who are fifth in the Premier League, host West Bromwich Albion later on Wednesday.

Wasteful Liverpool held at Spartak Moscow despite Philippe Coutinho strike

Published in Champions League
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 08:35

Champions League Group E - Otkrytie Arena – Spartak Moscow 1 (Fernando 23) Liverpool 1 (Coutinho 31)

Liverpool’s wait for a Champions League group-stage victory goes on after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow.

Philippe Coutinho’s well-worked goal levelled matters for Liverpool in the 31st minute after Fernando fired the Russian champions ahead.
Despite recording 16 shots in total, and seven on target, Jurgen Klopp’s side were unable to find a winner as their troubles in front of goal came to the forefront once more.
Liverpool had plenty of early opportunities, but again their profligacy in front of goal cost them as Loris Karius couldn’t keep out Fernando’s 23rd minute free-kick, meaning Liverpool’s almost eight year wait for a Champions League clean sheet goes on.

Down the other end, Liverpool continued to play fluid, exhilarating football, and were level eight minutes later through Coutinho, after a brilliant one-two with Mane to play in the Brazilian.

The second half was much less intense, as Spartak got men behind the ball to preserve what is for them a very good point.
Nonetheless, Liverpool had more than enough chances to snatch three points, but that final pass, and poor finishing, let them down, with Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge guilty of missing great chances late on. Liverpool's winless run in Europe's elite competition stands at seven, piling the pressure on their trip to Maribor next up.

TALKING POINT

Death, taxes and Liverpool missing chances. Jurgen Klopp has seen it all before - Liverpool’s matches this season have all been eerily similar. They had enough chances to win by a handsome margin in the Russia capital, but again wastefulness in front of goal was their undoing. It is as much the final pass being poor that is the problem. Liverpool got into good positions time and again, but the decision making was inept in the extreme, from players who should know better.
MAN OF THE MATCH

Artyom Rebrov. An injury brought his game to a premature end, but a string of fine saves earns the Spartak goalkeeper the man of the match award. He was like lightning off his line, didn’t fumble a single cross, and showed tremendous reflexes whenever called upon.

PLAYER RATING

Spartak Moscow: Rebrov 8, Eschenko 7, Kutepov 6, Tasci 7, Bocchetti 7, Dzhikiia 6, Samedov 6, Fernando 7, Pasalic 6, Popov 6, Adriano 5… Subs: Selikhov 6, Melgarejo N/A, Pedro Rocha N/A.

Liverpool: Karius 5, Alexander-Arnold 7, Lovren 6, Matip 6, Moreno 5, Henderson 5, Can 5, Coutinho 6, Salah 5, Mane 6, Firmino 4… Subs: Wijnaldum 6, Sturridge 4.
KEY MOMENTS

16’ - DOUBLE SAVE! Quick free-kick catches Spartak out, Salah is in, the angle is tight but he forces a good stop from Rebrov, but less then 30 seconds later, the Spartak stopper brilliantly denies Firmno after Mane had planted a cross right on the Brazilian's head.

23’ - GOOOOOAAAALLLL! Spartak Moscow 1-0 Liverpool. Fernando fires the free-kick into the net to send the home fans into raptures. Questions will be asked. Firstly there was a catalogue of errors that led to the free-kick being conceded. Secondly, the free-kick itself was very close to Karius. Should he have saved that?

28’ - SAVE! Mane does well to carry the attack to Spartak, cuts inside, fires for goal, but Rebrov is down smartly to smother.

31’ - GOOOOAAAALLL! Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool. Brilliant, brilliant equaliser from Coutinho gets the Reds back on level terms. Coutinho carried the ball to the edge of the area, laid it off for Mane, who threaded it back to Coutinho, first time, before the Brazilian slotted the ball high into the net. Exhilarating, attacking football. 40 goals in games involving Liverpool this season.
53’ - SAVE! Another good stop from Rebrov, low to his right. Coutinho's free-kick wasn't hit completely true, but still needed parrying away.

81’ - CHANCE! Awful defending gifts Firmino a chance on the edge of the box, but he panics and lashes the ball over the top. Had time to pick his spot.

89’ - CHAAAANCE! The flag stays down, Sturridge is unmarked on the end of a pinpoint Moreno cross, but he volleys over the top.

90+7’ - SAVE! This is getting ridiculous now. Super ball into the middle from Alexander-Arnold, Salah meets it, but heads straight at Selikhov, who throws out and arm to keep out the header.
KEY STATS

Liverpool have drawn four consecutive Champions League games for the first time since March 2002, while managed by Gerard Houllier.

The Reds extended their longest ever winless streak in the Champions League to seven games (D4 L3), having last won in September 2014 against Ludogorets.

Jurgen Klopp has not won any of his last six Champions League games (D3 L3); this after winning five in a row beforehand, while in charge of Borussia Dortmund.

Jurgen Klopp wants Philippe Coutinho back ‘as quickly as possible’

Published in England Premier League
Monday, 11 September 2017 09:43

Jurgen Klopp admits he would like Philippe Coutinho to start playing for Liverpool again “as quickly as possible”.

The midfielder expressed his desire to join Barcelona in the summer, but Liverpool refused all offers for the 25-year-old.

And Coutinho is yet to feature for Liverpool this season, with the club insisting it was due to a back injury, despite featuring twice for Brazil during the international break.

However, manager Klopp said he would be in contention for their Champions League clash against Sevilla on Wednesday.
“It was a decision made with the season in mind. He came back from a long flight, after two substitute appearances and three weeks without training,” Klopp told the club website.

“We play on Wednesday, we play on Saturday, we play, play, play, play, play. I will have the situation all the time now over the next three or four weeks.

“We thought it best to give him three or four days proper training and then he'll be available for us, which is very good news.

" Phil is a fantastic player, and hopefully we can use him as quickly as possible."
OUR VIEW

It was all going so well for Liverpool without Coutinho. That it, until they ran into Manchester City at the Etihad.

An unfortunate (but correct) red card for Sadio Mane did not help the cause, but the Reds were steamrollered on Saturday and do need Coutinho back firing if they want to maintain ambitions of winning the league.
Liverpool fans will not forget this summer’s saga overnight, but a series of committed performances would go some way for Coutinho to claim some admirers back at Anfield.

Few will expect him to stay beyond this season, so why not remain professional, while also ensuring that price-tag can remain in the £100m’s for Liverpool’s sake.

Philippe Coutinho to miss Liverpool clash against Manchester City

Published in England Premier League
Friday, 08 September 2017 13:08

Philippe Coutinho will not be in the Liverpool team for Saturday's Premier League match against Manchester City.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said the Brazil international - who was linked with a move to Barcelona following the departure of his compatriot Neymar to Paris St Germain - was in "a good mood" after returning to Merseyside following international duty.
However, the German said the playmaker would not feature against City.
Klopp said: "We have got all the numbers [on Coutinho] from the Brazilian FA - the training, the intensity of the training, stuff like that, and it was all okay. And he played twice - I think about 15 or 20 minutes.

"He could have played 15, 20 minutes again in the City game, maybe longer, but I think really it makes sense [to leave him out].

"He agreed completely, so it was not as if he said 'no, I don't need training, I want to play'. It was a good conversation."

Philippe Coutinho returns to Liverpool training after international duty

Published in England Premier League
Friday, 08 September 2017 07:27

Wantaway Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has returned to Melwood to begin training after international duty.

The Brazil international handed in a transfer request almost a month ago in an attempt to force through a move to Barcelona, who had three bids rejected after owners Fenway Sports Group insisted the 25-year-old was not for sale.
He has not yet played a match for the Reds this term because of a reported back injury but, having joined up with his national side for World Cup qualifiers, he made two substitute appearances against Ecuador and Colombia, scoring a trademark goal against the former.

Coutinho returned home via private jet on Wednesday with club-mate Roberto Firmino, Manchester City trio Ederson, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus and Chelsea's Willian after the three Premier League clubs once again pooled their resources to ensure their players were back in the country as soon as possible.
Liverpool have confirmed he and Firmino, along with another eight returning internationals - Mohamed Salah, Ben Woodburn, Danny Ward, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dominic Solanke and Emre Can - all attended the club's Melwood training ground on Thursday, with Senegal international Sadio Mane reporting back late on Wednesday.
With just 47 minutes of competitive action under his belt, it remains to be seen whether Coutinho will be under consideration for Saturday's trip to Manchester City.

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