Coutinho "happy" to be linked with Barcelona


Coutinho "happy" to be linked with Barcelona

Even if Firmino is fit for Sunday's clash against Middlesbrough, Klopp should field an nearly identical starting eleven to the one he deployed against West Ham.

Liverpool need to defeat Middlesbrough on the final day of the league season to guarantee a top four finish and participation in Champions League football next season.

Liverpool centre back Dejan Lovren has heaped praise on teammate Philippe Coutinho after Liverpool's 4-0 victory over West Ham on Sunday afternoon. He could bring Firmino off the bench, or he could bump Origi to the bench and have Firmino start in his place, but he should definitely start Coutinho exactly where he did last Sunday, without question. But the star turn was yet again Coutinho and what was particularly intriguing about the No10's contribution was that it came from a No8 position.

Liverpool have struggled in the second half of the 2016-17 season as Jurgen Klopp looked to cope with a spate of injuries, including the loss of Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane during the league campaign.

Marked less tightly and with space, Coutinho made his presence felt from the outset and it was his delicious defence-splitting pass on 35 minutes that opened the scoring for Liverpool.

That beckoned the full benefits of his long-range passing ability, something which was particularly evident when he set up Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool's first goal with a defence-splitting through ball from his own half, and allowed him opportunities to run onto the ball in risky areas. It was arguably one of Coutinho's best performances of the season, and it came at such a vital time for Liverpool with regards to the top four race.

It was a ideal performance from Coutinho and not just because of his output.

"They are looking for a different type of midfielder. If they're in the Champions League, the squad has to be much stronger, quality wise and quantity wise". Barcelona's advances will remain strong but the message from Anfield needs to be straightforward: our main man is going nowhere.

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