Klopp makes sharp exit to avoid Coutinho questions

Date published: Wednesday 9th August 2017 2:54

Jurgen Klopp made a hasty exit and did not reference Philip Coutinho as he previewed the start of the season at today’s shirt sleeve sponsorship announcement.

The German described Liverpool as being “in a good shape”, while keeping quiet about Philippe Coutinho’s future.

Speaking on Wednesday as the club announced Western Union as their shirt sleeve sponsor, Klopp gave an upbeat summary of how he was feeling about preparations for the new campaign.

But he did not make any specific reference to Coutinho, the Reds playmaker who continues to be linked with Barcelona, and sharply exited the media event before it was opened up for questions from the floor.

Barca had a £72million bid for the Brazil international rejected in July and, having subsequently sold his compatriot Neymar to Paris St Germain for a world-record £200.6million, are reportedly stepping up their pursuit of the 25-year-old.

Klopp last week reiterated his stance that Coutinho was not for sale.

Liverpool completed their pre-season matches by beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in Dublin on Saturday, with Coutinho one of a number of players missing due to illness and niggles.

The Merseyside outfit begin their Premier League campaign by taking on Watford away on Saturday, then travel to Germany for Tuesday’s Champions League qualifying play-off first leg against Hoffenheim.

Klopp said on Wednesday: “When we finished last season in fourth position everybody was really happy about it – it was really a good result for a big effort.

“We knew also there would be a qualification game, and now it is coming up. But the first challenge we have to face is playing Watford, even though everybody is thinking about the Champions League qualifiers.

“So Watford is the first target, and we have a few more days to prepare for this game.

“We are in a good shape. The players are in a good mood, the attitude in all the training sessions was really good – yes, there have been one or two little injuries and one bigger (Adam Lallana’s thigh problem), but that is how life is.

“We showed it in Dublin again that we are in a good shape. So everything is in a good way – but of course now we have to deliver, and we know that, so we are ready for it.

“The freshness is coming back. We are really excited.”

Liverpool have signed a five-year partnership with Western Union which sees the money transfer company become the club’s first shirt sleeve sponsor.

Western Union are also becoming an “official principal partner and the official money transfer partner” of the club.

At Wednesday’s event, Liverpool’s commercial director Olly Dale was asked about the club possibly striking naming rights deals.

He suggested one for the training ground could happen “at some stage in the future maybe”, while emphasising Liverpool are “not an organisation that is in the marketplace for a stadium naming rights deal”.

Dale also said a naming rights deal for the Main Stand at Anfield was “not an immediate priority”.

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