Liverpool will be without Philippe Coutinho for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off clash against Hoffenheim with the Brazilian’s future still up in the air as he has been heavily linked with Barcelona. The star midfielder for the Scousers has not been named in the 22-man travelling squad to Germany.
According to reports in the British press, Coutinho handed in a transfer request to Liverpool owners after Barcelona’s alleged interest worth 100 million Euros was turned down by the Reds. Additionally, there have been reports that Barcelona have made two transfer bids for Coutinho and both have been turned down. He had missed the club’s 3-3 draw against Watford to open the Premier League campaign with a reported back trouble. Later, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp conceded he had no control over Coutinho’s future at the club.
As per current UEFA rules, even if Coutinho features for Liverpool against Hoffenheim in the play-off round, he would still be able to feature in Europe’s premier club competition – should his transfer go through. This would be a boost for Barcelona, should they pull the deal off, as they would have the services of the attacking midfielder and also help Liverpool in asking for a higher transfer price. UEFA Champions League group stages begin next month.
Liverpool will also be without striker Daniel Sturridge who has still not recovered from a thigh injury that he picked up in the pre-season. Hoffenheim host Liverpool at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Tuesday night before the two sides meet again at Anfield next week in the second leg.