Liverpool owner John Henry takes swipe at Philippe Coutinho ahead of Champions League final

Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January (Picture: Getty)Liverpool owner John Henry has taken a swipe at Philippe Coutinho ahead of the club’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.

The Reds will attempt to win a sixth European Cup on Saturday evening when they face Spanish giants Real in Kiev.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have enjoyed a stunning run in Europe this season, beating Porto, Manchester City and Roma in the knockout stages to reach the final.

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Liverpool have twice been forced to sell their star players to Barcelona in the last four years, with Coutinho joining Luis Suarez at the Nou Camp in January.

Asked about the duo ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final, Liverpool owner and American businessman Henry told AP: ‘They’ll be watching this weekend and could have been playing.

‘But (part owner) Mike Gordon, (sporting director) Michael Edwards and everyone in our scouting department have done a terrific job in making the best of those two difficult situations.’

Liverpool owner John Henry with manager Jurgen Klopp (Picture: Getty)He added: ‘You don’t want to be in the position where players want to go somewhere else, even if it is a great club like Barcelona.

‘It’s hard to understand why players would want to go to a league where the competition is so weak. They must play 30 or so meaningless matches per year waiting for Champions League matches.’

Suarez scored a staggering 82 goals in 133 games for Liverpool before joining Barcelona in 2014 for around £65million. He has since won three La Liga titles and the Champions League.

Coutinho will hope that kind of success awaits him at Barca – his January move cost over £140m and he scored 10 goals in 22 appearances as Barcelona won La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

Coutinho joined Luis Suarez at Barcelona (Picture: EFE)More: Football

Henry, who has been in charge of Liverpool for eight years, said: ‘Maybe it’s because I’m an American, but I have a difficult time understanding why anyone would want to leave Liverpool.

‘The club is so rich in history and tradition, supported by so many millions around the world, in virtually every country of the world.’

MORE: Simon Mignolet ‘not thinking’ of Liverpool future beyond Champions League final

Jurgen Klopp revealed his Champions League prediction to Philippe Coutinho in private meeting at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp told Philippe Coutinho that Liverpool would emerge as Champions League contenders. (Reuters)Jurgen Klopp told Philippe Coutinho in a private meeting that Liverpool would turn into one of the Champions League’s heavyweights, according to reports.

Liverpool are on the brink of reaching next month’s Champions League final after beating Roma 5-2 in the first leg of their semi-final at Anfield on Tuesday evening.

But according to Joe.co.uk, Klopp predicted Liverpool’s rise in Europe in a meeting with Coutinho at the club’s training ground in December 2016.

The report claims that the Liverpool manager told the Brazilian that he felt the three Champions League frontrunners – Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona – were not going to be as formidable as once were and would not be viewed as unbeatable sides in the upcoming seasons.

Klopp then told Coutinho that Liverpool could become a force in Europe once again, and said that the midfielder would be at the centre of the club’s revival.

Klopp said that Coutinho would be at the heart of Liverpool’s revival in Europe. (Reuters)More: Football

But Klopp’s vision was not enough for Coutinho, who demanded to leave Liverpool for Barcelona a year later.

Coutinho was cup-tied for this year’s Champions League after he joined Barcelona from Liverpool, but his new club were surprisingly knocked out by Roma in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have a new talisman as Mohamed Salah has established himself as the focal point in Klopp’s attack.

Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s new talisman. (AP)After beating Roma at Anfield, Klopp insisted that the two late goals his side conceded did not make a difference to their approach to the second leg next week.

‘It should not sound like a warning or whatever but we are not Barcelona,’ said Klopp.

‘Barcelona is one of the two or three best teams in the world and they won so many things in the last few years and we didn’t.

‘We will fight with all we have for that result again. It is so much better than I could have expected before the game but now in the moment I feel the two goals we conceded.

‘We have to work again in Rome – that is no problem. There would have been work for us to do if we had won 5-0 because Roma would have tried everything to strike back anyway so that is not a big difference.’

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Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez combine in Copa del Rey win over Sevilla

Barcelona celebrate on their way to victory (Getty)Barcelona thrashed Sevilla 5-0 to win the Copa del Rey on Saturday night.

The Catalan side put in a sensational performance at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium to win the trophy for a 30th time.

Luis Suarez opened the scoring from close range in the 14th minute after Philippe Coutinho teed him up.

It was the third time the January signing had provided an assist for Suarez, already more than they managed during their combined time together at Liverpool.

3 – Philippe Coutinho ya ha dado más asistencias a Luis Suárez con la camiseta del Barça (tres) que con el Liverpool (dos) en todas las competiciones. Complicidad. pic.twitter.com/OTAqkaJIk4
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 21, 2018

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Lionel Messi doubled the lead in the 31st minute by slamming home a Jordi Alba backheel.

5 – Lionel Messi se convierte en el segundo jugador en marcar en cinco finales de Copa del Rey (seis goles), el primero desde Telmo Zarra entre 1942 y 1950 (ocho goles). Emperador. pic.twitter.com/5wYfyhRKg7
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 21, 2018

The Argentinean then turned provider, setting up Suarez to score before half-time.

The rout continued in the second half with Andres Iniesta scoring early on before Coutinho made it 5-0 from the penalty spot.

Barcelona’s record signing was given penalty duties after he found the back of the net, only to find the whistle-happy referee had given a spot-kick for a handball in the box. He made no mistake however, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Suarez opens the scoring (Reuters)

The former Liverpool players celebrate together (Getty)

Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi celebrate (Getty)

Suarez scored twice on the night (Getty)Iniesta, who will leave Barcelona for China at the end of the season, collected the trophy.

MORE: Jose Mourinho reveals Ed Woodward predicted Manchester United’s win against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-finals

Phil Thompson tells Philippe Coutinho what to do if he gets a Champions League winners’ medal

Philippe Coutinho helped Liverpool through to the knock-out phase of the Champions League (Getty)Philippe Coutinho must reject the offer of a Champions League winners’ medal if Liverpool go all the way, Phil Thompson has said.

The Brazilian forward left Anfield for Barcelona during the January transfer window, however he would be eligible to receive a medal – a prospect all the more possible after Liverpool overcame Manchester City in the quarter-finals.

Uefa hand 40 gold medals to the winners of the tournament which the club can distribute as they see fit.

Uefa rule on medals

‘The winning team is presented with forty gold medals and the runner-up with forty silver medals. Additional medals may not be produced.’

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Coutinho joined Barcelona for £142million (Getty)They may deem Coutinho worthy, with the 25-year-old scoring five goals and providing two assists during the group stage to help the Reds progress to the knock-out phase.

But according to Thompson, a former Liverpool player, coach and European Cup winner, Coutinho doesn’t deserve the medal and should turn it down.

‘He left Liverpool to go to Barcelona knowing he wasn’t going to play Champions League football.

‘I got a medal in 1977 for Liverpool because I played up until the semi-finals.

‘I don’t count that as a winners’ medal. I have that in my house in a cabinet but I say wherever I go I’ve only two European Cup winners’ medals.

Liverpool celebrate their 5-1 aggregate win over Manchester City that’s put them into the semi-finals (Getty)‘I’d like to think if there’s anything about Coutinho, if they do go on to win it, he says “no, I don’t deserve that”.

‘And he wouldn’t be. I don’t care, it’s wrong.’

More reaction to Liverpool’s win over Man City…

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Thompson showed his love of Liverpool last night with his wild celebration on Sky Sports as Mohamed Salah equalised against Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will find out on Friday who they will face in the semi-finals. Roma are through with Real Madrid taking on Juventus and Bayerrn Munich playing Sevilla tonight.

MORE: Rio Ferdinand praises Jurgen Klopp for improving four Liverpool players after Manchester City victory

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to sign Juventus star Paulo Dybala as Philippe Coutinho successor

After holding off in January, Klopp will move for an heir to the Brazilian this summer (Picture: Getty)Liverpool are considering a summer move for Juventus star Paulo Dybala after Jurgen Klopp finally settled on a successor to Philippe Coutinho, according to reports.

The Merseysiders reinvested some of the £146million they received for the Brazilian from Barcelona in January on world’s most expensive defender Virgil van Dijk, who cost £75m.

However, Liverpool chose not sign a direct replacement for Coutinho at the time, though Italian outlet Mediaset Sport now claim that Klopp has requested the club try to sign Dybala.

Dybala scored a hat-trick on Saturday, though his form has suffered through injuries in 2018 (Getty)The Reds have a ferocious frontline but possess little depth beyond their front three, and Klopp has asked Liverpool’s transfer bosses to look into a summer move for Dybala.

Despite Dybala’s excellent form for Juventus since he left Palermo, there is a growing sense in Turin that they would accept an offer if they received in excess of £110m.

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Juve had few qualms about selling Paul Pogba for a world-record fee two years ago, while Dybala’s red card in the Champions League against Real Madrid has lost him quite a few fans.

The Old Lady have already began investigating a potential replacement for Dybala in the form Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann, though would need to sell before they could by.

Dybala’s performance against Spurs didn’t just excite Klopp, but Pochettino too (Picture: Getty)Liverpool are not the only Premier League side showing interest in Dybala, with Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino a huge admirer of his compatriot too.

That was enhanced further when Dybala took on Spurs in the Champions League last 16 and scored the decisive goal at Wembley that knocked them out, with Pochettino said to be ‘bewitched’ by his display in London.

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Liverpool offered Philippe Coutinho plus £61m to Real Madrid for Gareth Bale

Philippe Coutinho was offered to Real Madrid by Liverpool. (AMA/Getty Images)Liverpool offered Philippe Coutinho plus €70 million (£61m) to Real Madrid for Gareth Bale, according to claims in a new book.

Bale looks set to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and has been linked with a move to Manchester United.

Coutinho, meanwhile, sealed his £142m move to Barcelona in the January transfer window, although reports in Spain also claimed that Real Madrid were interested in the Brazilian.

According to the newly released book ‘PSG: Revelations of a Revolution’ which is written by Edicinoes Amphora, Liverpool were willing to offload Coutinho to Madrid in exchange for Bale.

The book also claims that Jurgen Klopp is a ‘massive admirer’ of the Wales international and had ‘no hesitation’ in supporting Liverpool’s attempts to sign the player.

Jurgen Klopp is reportedly a huge admirer of Bale. (Getty Images) 

Bale ended up remaining at Madrid but the club’s president Florentino Perez is now open to the idea of selling the 28-year-old.

Bale has started only 17 games in all competitions for Madrid this season as he continues to be hampered by injury.

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Philippe Coutinho not happy with ‘Salah, Mane, Mane’ song from Liverpool fans

Philippe Coutinho did not look happy to hear the chant from Liverpool fans. (YouTube)Philippe Coutinho does not appear to be happy with the latest song from Liverpool fans which references his sale to Barcelona.

The Brazil international left Anfield in the January transfer window to join Barcelona in a £142 million deal.

But Jurgen Klopp’s side are coping after the midfielder’s departure having reached the Champions League quarter-finals and tightened their grip on a top-four place in the Premier League.

Liverpool fans, meanwhile, have created a song to the tune of The Archies’ 1969 hit ‘Sugar, Sugar’ which hails their attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

The lyrics to the song are: ‘Salah, oh Mane Mane, Roberto Firmino and we sold Coutinho.’

After Brazil’s 1-0 win over Germany on Tuesday evening, Coutinho was asked what he thought of the song, but he looked less than impressed with the efforts from Liverpool’s fans.

And here’s the original chant in all its glory…

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The best, worst and surprisingly successful January transfers featuring Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Virgil van Dijk

Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcot, Daniel Sturridge, Virgil van Dijk and Patrice Evra were among the players on the move in January (Picture: Getty; PA)It’s been nearly two months since the close of the January transfer window and with the cheques having cleared we can assess which moves really warranted all the hype.

It was arguably the most exciting mid-season window ever, with huge stars switching between some of the biggest clubs and vast sums of money changing hands.

But which new arrivals have had fans out of their seats and which have had them pulling their hair out?

Biggest flop – Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez couldn’t stop Manchester United being dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla (Getty)Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United was the biggest deal of the lot, with the Chilean dramatically snubbing Manchester City in favour of Old Trafford (and the £350,000-a-week that came with it). The Red Devils revelled in his capture with the release of a cringey video to make the announcement, but things haven’t gone so well since.

In 10 appearances he’s scored just one goal and has looked well short of the levels he once showed at Arsenal. His arrival has also caused Jose Mourinho a selection dilemma in attack, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial pushed to the margins. Paul Pogba’s bad season has also deteriorated since January, with some pointing to Sanchez’s role in the team.

And now it’s even being reported that Sanchez is cutting an isolated figure and is eating alone in the Manchester United canteen. Is the former Arsenal man the new Angel Di Maria?

The perfect fit – Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk’s arrival was announced before the window even opened (Getty)For what felt like years Liverpool were persistently told ‘buy a top quality defender and you could be genuine contenders’. In January they finally heeded that advice with the £75m signing of Virgil van Dijk and the upturn in defensive displays from Jurgen Klopp’s side has been dramatic.

They’ve kept clean sheets in half the 10 games the Dutchman has played and some are beginning to believe Liverpool could be Man City’s biggest title challengers next season.

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Inevitably disappointing – Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley upon his arrival at Chelsea (Getty)Chelsea’s signing of Ross Barkley always felt more likely to fall into the category of a Scott Parker or Steve Sidwell arrival than the next Frank Lampard. And so far there’s been little evidence to the contrary.

Following his switch from Everton he’s made just three appearances and has since suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury that scuppered a move last summer. His one showing in the Premier League was the 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth.

Surprising success – Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott has been Everton’s best player since his arrival (Getty)There was so much focus on a certain Alexis Sanchez and the possibility of some big-name arrivals at Arsenal that the departure of Theo Walcott went relatively unnoticed. But he’s arguably been the most successful transfer of the January window. In his eight appearances for Everton he’s scored twice, created another two and overall been the Toffees’ standout player.

Potential life saver – Kenedy

Kenedy celebrates one of his two goals against Southampton (Getty)In Newcastle’s final match before the international break young Chelsea loanee Kenedy scored a brace in a 3-0 win over relegation rivals Southampton. A couple more performances like that will be enough to save the Magpies from the drop.

Depressingly predictable – Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge moved to West Brom on loan (Getty)Switching to West Brom on loan looked the perfect move for Daniel Sturridge. Away from Liverpool he would get the regular football he needed and with the motivation of a place in the England World Cup squad there would be no stopping him.

But just three games into his loan spell at the Hawthorns the inevitable injury happened and, without a goal to his name, he hasn’t played since.

Smart buy – Alex Pritchard

Alex Pritchard celebrates (Getty)Huddersfield looked to be on an inevitable slide back to the Championship with the club suffering five straight Premier League defeats in January. But since then, they’ve picked up seven points from 15 and moved away from the relegation zone.

The busy displays of Alex Pritchard in midfield, signed for around £12million from Norwich, have been key to that. The former Tottenham academy product has weighed in with a goal and an assist and could just keep David Wagner’s team up.

Least missed – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho switched to Barcelona (Getty)Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona saw him become the second most expensive player in history. But rather than feeling the void of one of the world’s best players having just left, Liverpool have thrived in his absence with the club third in the Premier League and through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Still to convince – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has three in six (Reuters)The most expensive arrival in the Premier League during the January window has bagged three goals in six appearances for Arsenal which is a healthy return. But having essentially ousted Alexandre Lacazette from the side and been unable to play in the Europa League (the only competition that actually matters to Arsenal) it’s too early to say if he was worth the £56m Arsenal paid.

Unhappy return – Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra in action for West Ham (Getty)Patrice Evra is something of a Premier League legend having won a shedload of titles with Manchester United. So when it was announced he was returning to England in the colours of West Ham it was widely welcomed. But since the veteran’s free transfer, he’s played twice and been on the wrong end of two 4-1 scorelines. Meanwhile West Ham fans have suffered a total meltdown and recently came close to a full-on riot at the London Stadium (although to be fair to Evra, that wasn’t really his fault).

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The one that got away – Michy Batshuayi

Michy Batshuayi celebrates one of his eight goals for Borussia Dortmund (Getty)During the January window Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wanted a striker who could provide competition for Alvaro Morata and bang in a few crucial goals. So in came Olivier Giroud from Arsenal who’s managed to score one goal in eight appearances. At the same time Michy Batshuayi went out on loan to Borussia Dortmund where the Belgian has since scored eight goals for his new club. It’s impossible not to conclude that somewhere Chelsea made a mistake.

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Barcelona want Andres Iniesta to stay and help mentor former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho was signed from Liverpool in January as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta (Picture: Getty)Barcelona are desperate for Andres Iniesta to snub a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League and help mentor the club’s record signing Philippe Coutinho.

Iniesta has until April 30 to make a decision on his future, but Barcelona are said to be growing increasingly concerned that the 33-year-old will call time on his glittering Camp Nou career.

The Liga leaders have already taken steps to replace one of the most iconic players in the club’s history by recruiting Coutinho for £142million in January, while Artur Melo will complete his move from Gremio in the close season.

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Andres Iniesta was given a heroes reception when he was substituted against Chelsea last week (Picture: Getty)

Arthur is expected to complete his move from Gremio to Barcelona this summer (Picture: Getty)Despite their forward planning, Sport claims Barcelona, and in particular their manager Ernesto Valverde, are concerned at the prospect of Iniesta leaving prematurely and want him to stay and educate the new arrivals on the essence and philosophy of the club.

Iniesta is still mulling over his future but concedes he has been well treated by Barcelona’s hierarchy including President Josep Maria Bartomeu and was touched by the reception he received from his home crowd when he was substituted during last week’s win over Chelsea in the Champions League.

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Jurgen Klopp explains how Liverpool have improved without Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool became too reliant on Philippe Coutinho and have become a better side since the Brazilian joined Barcelona in January.

The 25-year-old became the third most expensive player in history when he joined Ernesto Valverde’s Champions League favourites in a £142million deal last month.

In the absence of their former playmaker, Liverpool have won seven of their last 10 games and scored three goals or more on four occasions.

‘With Phil we were giving him a four-yard pass and you don’t need that,’ Klopp said, explaining how his team has adapted.

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‘Now we don’t have this dominant player – ‘Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me’ – that’s how it is. I don’t want this to be misunderstood. It was really good, that’s why Phil is the player he is, but now we play differently and not only because he is out.

‘I don’t want this to be misunderstood. It was really good, that’s why Phil is the player he is, but now we play differently and not only because he is out. It is because the boys do so well.

‘Roberto was always a dominant player; that’s why he drops into midfield and gets the ball and loses a few balls where you have a heart attack, but then he wins it back and starts an attack. It is not the biggest difference but there are a few decisive differences in the last few games. Maybe the biggest compliment is that nobody thought in the last few games: ‘With Phil it would have been different.’

‘I really don’t want to throw dirt after Phil because there is no need and everything is fine, but it’s just normal. We played fantastic football with Phil as well. The team needed to step up without him.’

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