Brendan Rodgers insists his former club Liverpool hold the power over Philippe Coutinho’s future after the Reds rejected a fresh £90million bid from Barcelona.
The La Liga giants have seemingly identified the Brazilian as the man to replace his countryman Neymar, who joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record £200.6million transfer fee last week.
And Rodgers – who signed Coutinho from Inter Milan for £8.5million in 2013 during his time in charge at Anfield – is adamant that Liverpool do not have to sell the 25-year-old playmaker.
“Philippe Coutinho is a world-class player but the power in the position is with Liverpool,” Celtic manager Rodgers said after Alan Tate’s testimonial match at Swansea.
“Phil has signed a new contract. He’s always going to have other clubs that want him.
“But Liverpool don’t have to sell him if they don’t want to. So the power is very much with them.
“Liverpool’s a fantastic club and I know he really enjoys it there.
“He’s got great supporters and a great manager, so I’m sure he would be very happy there.”
Rodgers on Sigurdsson future
Rodgers also brought Gylfi Sigurdsson to Swansea before he left for Liverpool in June 2012.
Sigurdsson, initially signed on loan, returned to Swansea in 2014 after spending two seasons at Tottenham.
Everton remain determined to sign Sigurdsson but have yet to match Swansea’s £50m valuation for the Icelandic midfielder.
“I think you always have to be prepared to lose your best players,” Rodgers said of Swansea’s situation.
“It’s something that happens, particularly in the modern game. But the club lost individuals when I was here, players moved on.”
Rodgers also remains convinced that Swansea will have targets lined up to replace Sigurdsson if he does leave.
“I’m sure the scouting and recruitment team behind the scenes if Gylfi is to go – and it’s a big if at the moment – will bring in the people they want to,” Rodgers said.
“The strength at Swansea has always been the team and the players and supporters together. That has been proven over many years.
“Gylfi’s an outstanding player and if he was to go I know it would be with a heavy heart.
“I took him to Swansea on loan and I know how much it means to him. He agreed to come here just before I left to go for Liverpool.
“He’s been a great servant here and currently still is until anything changes.”