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Friday 24 November 2017

Barca 'close' to a deal for Coutinho

But Klopp denies a deal has been done for Liverpool's Brazilian ace

Barcelona believe a deal for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho is “expected” but Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is adamant there are no further developments. Photo: PA Wire
Barcelona believe a deal for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho is “expected” but Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is adamant there are no further developments. Photo: PA Wire

Barcelona general manager Pep Segura has said the signings of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are "close" after watching his side lose to arch-rivals Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final.

Liverpool have remained adamant that Brazilian playmaker Coutinho - who has submitted a transfer request - will not be sold in this transfer window while Borussia Dortmund suspended Dembele after the forward failed to show for training amid links with Barcelona.

However, Segura expressed confidence deals for both players could be done before the transfer window closes.

"We are close to Coutinho and Dembele," he said on Catalan television. "We are discussing their deals but do not know when it will be done."

Asked if he expected them to sign, he added: "Yes, we expect it."

Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Getty Images

Reports in Spain on Wednesday suggested Barca had agreed a fee with Dortmund for French winger Dembele.

Barca are looking to replace Neymar following his shock world record transfer to Paris St Germain, and their need for reinforcements was apparent as they lost 2-0 to Madrid on Wednesday night, completing a 5-1 aggregate loss to the Spanish and European champions.

Strengthen

"We know we have to strengthen this team and that is what we are doing," Segura added. "We have to help the team." Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has dismissed Barcelona claims that a deal for wantaway playmaker Philippe Coutinho is close to completion.

The club have rejected two bids from Barcelona, the last 100million euros (£90.9m), and a week ago issued a defiant statement insisting no offers would be considered and the player would remain at the club beyond the summer window.

Coutinho, who is currently sidelined with a back injury, immediately handed in a transfer request and after Wednesday night's Spanish Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid Pep Segura, Liverpool's former academy technical manager and now Barcelona's general manager, told Catalan television: "We are close to Coutinho and (Ousmane) Dembele.

Barcelona unveiled new signing Paulinho at the Nou Camp yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Barcelona unveiled new signing Paulinho at the Nou Camp yesterday. Photo: Reuters

"We are discussing their deals but do not know when it will be done." Asked if he expected them to sign, he added: "Yes, we expect it."

However, Klopp is adamant there have been no more developments and the two clubs are not even in discussions.

"I saw the game (Real-Barcelona) but I forgot to watch the interviews afterwards. Nothing to say from our side," said the Reds boss.

"I don't know why other people are saying what they are saying; I don't even know them - especially this guy, I've never even met him."

Asked whether there had been any subsequent talks Klopp added: "I am not sure I have to answer this only because we have said what we have to say, or the club said what we have to say.

"No news from me because no-one told me anything different since we spoke last time about this."

Impossible

There have been suggestions Coutinho could agitate for a move by effectively going on strike but while he is still injured that is impossible.

Klopp was asked about the prospect of this and the Brazil international's general attitude.

"To be honest I have nothing to say about his attitude because since he has had a back problem he has obviously not been in training," he said.

"I asked the medical department how he is doing and there are no complaints so that is how it is. There is nothing bad to say about this. We are all not silly. We know it is a very difficult situation but there is nothing new to say. It is not always easy for me to say the 100 per cent truth - even though I don't like to like - but it is exactly how I say it because that is how it is in the moment, nothing else."

Meanwhile, Paulinho is ready to meet the challenges facing Barcelona this season "with courage" after moving to the Nou Camp for €40million.

Speaking at his Nou Camp unveiling yesterday, he said: "You have to face challenges with courage. I will try to do my job and I am prepared.

"Coming here is a dream. It's a very satisfying moment. I will give everything."

On social media a number of Barca fans have begun to call for the resignation of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has overseen the modest recruitment drive that has so far brought in Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu and Paulinho.

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