Friday, December 14, 2018

Valverde steers clear of latest Coutinho reports

SoccerNews in La Liga 6 Jan 2018

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Ernesto Valverde continues to be a big fan of Philippe Coutinho, but the Barcelona boss steered clear of speculation suggesting the Brazil international is on the verge of a move to Camp Nou.

Coutinho was heavily linked in August, but Liverpool were able to hang onto their prize asset, Barca seemingly signing Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund instead.

However, the Catalan giants have reportedly renewed their interest in Coutinho now the transfer window has reopened.

Coutinho – who has 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions this season – missed Friday’s 2-1 FA Cup third-round victory over Everton with a thigh injury.

Jurgen Klopp was not keen to discuss a reported £140million transfer, and Valverde continues to be similarly disinterested in stoking the fire.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Sunday’s LaLiga clash with Levante, the Barca boss said: “Coutinho is a great player, like many other players, and what I always like to do is value the players I have.

“There is speculation about great players around the world but we have many great players and I like to focus on mine.

“What the Barca fans want, apart from good players, is a team that plays well and wins, but the important thing is to have a good match tomorrow.”

The visit of Levante could see the return to LaLiga action of Dembele after four months out with an ankle injury, the France international coming off the bench during Thursday’s 1-1 Copa del Rey draw against Celta Vigo. 

And Valverde believes the time on the sidelines has helped the 20-year-old adapt to life in Spain.

“He is well, better than when he came in,” added the coach. “He was a little confused four months ago, he’s had a serious injury but he’s fine and ready.

“Everyone has a chance of being a starter, but I have already said that we have to be careful with him [Dembele].”

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