Philippe Coutinho has been left out of Liverpool’s squad for the friendly against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday night.
The midfielder, who is wanted by Barcelona as a replacement for Neymar following his £200million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, has a slight niggle which forced him to miss the meeting with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Coutinho joins Ousmane Dembele and Paulo Dybala on the Catalan club’s shortlist. Barcelona’s want has only grown following Neymar’s defection to PSG and Coutinho is their No.1 target.
However, Liverpool have been emphatic that the Brazilian star will not be sold this summer and Jurgen Klopp has not wavered in his belief that Coutinho will be at Anfield come the end of the transfer window.
Coutinho, 25, missed the final of the Audi Cup against Atletico and now skips the trip to Dublin to rest a back injury, as Liverpool look for him to be fit for the season opener against Watford.
He missed training on Friday when the Reds returned to Melwood, and the decision has been made for the playmaker to rest up over the weekend.
With Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as Klopp’s preferred front trio, Coutinho is set for more responsibility at the heart of the Reds midfield this season.
He started at the heart of midfield against Bayern, and Klopp is placing increased trust in the Brazilian, at the heart of his side, as he looks to bring a first league title to Merseyside since 1990.
After the win over Bayern Munich he added: “I can understand that Coutinho is so highly rated, but they can save their energy.”