Barcelona boss finally speaks out as Liverpool reveal Coutinho price

Ernesto Valverde insists it is ‘damaging’ to discuss Barcelona’s transfer plans and says he can only focus on his current squad as Philippe Coutinho continues to be linked with a move away from Liverpool.

Coutinho emerged as Barcelona’s top target last summer and the Brazilian handed in a formal transfer request in an attempt to push the stunning move through.

While he remained at Anfield, Barca have been in constant contact with Liverpool since the summer window closed and are close to striking a January move, according to reports.

Premier League giants Liverpool stood firm in the summer but will reportedly accept an offer of £127million next month with Barcelona eyeing a replacement for veteran Andres Iniesta.

Speaking about the club’s interest in Coutinho, Valverde said on Friday: ‘The problem is we’ve been speaking about players for a long time who are not part of the club. There was a lot of talk during the close season.

‘Right now, we can’t sign anybody, so let’s concentrate on what we’ve got now. It’s damaging to us to discuss these things when the market is closed. When we get to the market, I probably won’t want to discuss these things, either!

‘At the moment, Coutinho is not one of my players. I want to worry about my players and the game we have [against Celta Vigo on Saturday].’

Coutinho, who has been at Liverpool since 2013, has enjoyed a fine start to the season, scoring six goals in 12 appearances. The Reds are currently fifth in the Premier League, two points outside the final Champions League spot, and take on Brighton on Saturday.