Philippe Coutinho admits links with Barcelona are “cool” but has restated his commitment to Liverpool with Champions League football just one game away from being guaranteed for the Reds next season.
On Sunday afternoon, Liverpool beat West Ham 4-0 to ensure that if a win at home on the final day of the season is secured then Champions League football will be guaranteed next season.
Crucial to the Reds’ performance at the London Stadium on Sunday was Philippe Coutinho’s inspirational form. Jürgen Klopp deployed the Brazilian as a number eight in a similar role to what Brendan Rodgers had him fulfil in the 2013-14 season which saw Liverpool come so close to winning the Premier League title for the first time in 27 years.
Klopp’s 4-4-2 diamond with Coutinho as a deep-lying playmaker, with Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi up top, saw life return to Liverpool after a limp display against Southampton at Anfield.
Coutinho’s two goals and assist for Sturridge’s opener saw him pick up the Man of the Match award. Of course, another brilliant display meant that the links that appeared before the game are all the more worrying for Liverpool supporters.
Coutinho told ESPN Brasil ahead of a mouth-watering performance at the London Stadium, “Barcelona is one of the best teams in the world. So far, nothing has come to me because, if anything comes, it comes to my manager. What I have to do is focus on the pitch.
“I have a contract with Liverpool, there are a lot of chances for us to be in the Champions League next year.
“What I have to do is focus on football and those things are resolved by the business people.
“I’m happy to know that a great club has an interest, it’s cool, for the recognition of their work. What I have to do is keep working hard.
“Liverpool is a great club and we have to put Liverpool back in the Champions League.”
Coutinho’s constant assurance that he wants to stay at Liverpool should reassure supporters of his commitment ahead of a monumental summer for the club.
With Liverpool 90 minutes and three points away from Champions League football, it is of the utmost importance that the Reds secure a return to the elite European football competition.
Not only do Liverpool’s summer transfer targets depend on finishing in the top four, it has been too long since the Reds were in the Champions League. Having won the competition five times, Liverpool belongs in the tournament.
Players like Coutinho will also be wanting to play in the Champions League next season so, to hold onto the club’s best players, winning against Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon is non-negotiable.