Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told reporters that Philippe Coutinho is likely to miss Saturday’s Premier League clash against Manchester City.
The Reds stayed true to their word by refusing to sell the Brazilian during the summer transfer window.
The playmaker submitted a transfer request last month following interest from Barcelona, but by the deadline, the 25-year-old was still a Liverpool player.
Coutinho has since returned to training, but Klopp has indicated that the attack-minded star will not feature against City on Saturday due to his lack of game time.
The Brazilian has not played for Liverpool since August 1 due to a back injury and virus, but he had outings in both of his country’s World Cup qualifiers last week.
During his pre-match press conference, Klopp told reporters:
“I know what people think but Phil had the back problem a few weeks ago and couldn’t train so that means he missed around about three weeks. Yes, he went to the national team and trained normally, but now we have to prepare for a normal season.
“So we have seven games [before the next international break], we saw [him] in training and thought, ‘OK! Maybe we should use him immediately’ – he was really good. But that doesn’t make sense. We have now to continue with [his] pre-season. Not too long, but a few sessions.”
There is no denying Coutinho’s quality and in a game of this magnitude Liverpool will want all of their best players in the team.
However, the Reds are also filled with attacking talent and they have proven in the early stages of the season that they can get results without their ‘little magician’.
After a shaky opening 3-3 draw with Watford in the Premier League, Klopp’s side earned wins over Crystal Palace and Hoffenheim, who they beat over two legs to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.
Before the international break, the Merseyside outfit ripped Arsenal apart due to the strength of their attacking trio – Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool’s problems have always been defensive, so even if Coutinho was available, he wouldn’t bolster that area of the pitch.
Given City’s open way of playing, there is no reason why Klopp’s current stars cannot make an impact at the top of the field.