Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has admitted his admiration of Philippe Coutinho but refused to comment on reports Barca would soon move for the Liverpool star.
La Liga leaders Barca are expected to make a January move for the talented Brazilian after having approaches for the Brazilian rejected during the summer.
Speaking on Wednesday ahead of Barca’s Copa del Rey game with Celta Vigo on Thursday, Valverde admitted that the 25-year-old Coutinho is a player he admires, but would not be drawn on the future.
“He plays for another team, he’s a good player and we do not know what will happen in the future, the ones that worry me most are the [players] I have right now,” said Valverde.
Asked again about Coutinho and the fact that he would not be available for the Champions League even if he did sign, Valverde replied: “I have nothing to say about Coutinho, we respect that he is with another club.”
Reports suggest that Liverpool are now ready to negotiate a deal for Coutinho with the Catalan giants, with the talented forward likely to cost more than £96.8 million record signing Ousmane Dembele.
There is continued speculation that a deal is imminent, with several reports suggesting Coutinho has already played his last game for the Anfield club after he was absent from the New Year’s Day win over Burnley with a “minor thigh injury.”
Coutinho is also a doubt for Friday’s FA Cup tie with Everton.