Jurgen Klopp insisted Philippe Coutinho was genuinely injured for Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Burnley as he laughed off talk of the Brazilian forward joining Barcelona.
Coutinho missed Monday’s Premier League with a thigh injury amid a backdrop of speculation over a move to the Nou Camp in the January transfer window.
The rumours 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 sponsor, over the weekend.
Liverpool manager Klopp claimed there was nothing untoward behind the 25-year-old’s absence from Liverpool’s squad at Turf Moor as he responded to questions about the Nike pictures.
“I heard about it,” he said. “Somebody told me and I thought ‘wow’. But I couldn’t be less interested in anything in the world!
“Him (Coutinho) and Mohamed (Salah) are injured, not massively but enough for today, no chance and at least a doubt for Everton.”
The Reds face Sam Allardyce’s men in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday – a day after Egypt forward Salah and Senegal forward Sadio Mane are set to attend an awards night in Ghana.
Klopp confirmed he will allow the duo to appear at the Confederation of African Football Awards on Thursday, when the Liverpool stars go up against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon for the 2017 African Footballer of the Year Award.
“Yes, they will go. We have everything organised. We have two of the three best African players in our squad. We have to show them respect,” said the German.
“If it had been a match day they wouldn’t have asked, but the night before is fine. We sleep in a hotel, they sleep in a plane. That is all the difference, the modern world.”