Handed the captain’s armband for Liverpool’s crunch meeting with Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday, Reds attacker Philippe Coutinho put in a performance worthy of the position bagging his first European hat-trick for the Anfield outfit.
A strike from the spot within the opening five minutes was followed up with a superb team effort as the Brazilian had a pair before the break. Completing the treble wouldn’t take too long after the restart with the 25-year old capping off his Man of the Match display when his deflected shot squeaked past Spartak ‘keeper Aleksandr Selikhov. Exiting the pitch to the Kop singing his praises, Coutinho went on to thank the supporters in his post match interview, but when the subject of Barcelona’s interest in bringing him to the Nou Camp was broached he immediately removed the kid gloves.
“I do not know how the future is going to be. What will happen in January, we will know it in January. I do not know if there will be an offer,” explained the Brazilian, being completely frank. “Last summer there was a job offer in the same way that happens with any employee and I was interested in it. Since I stayed I have played with will and desire,” continued the 25-year old, shifting the conversation towards more manageable territory. “I am here (at Liverpool), we have a lot of games and I try to do my best to help. I always do my best when I have the opportunity to play, respecting the jersey and the supporters.”
With betting suspended on his proposed move to Catalonia, it’s looking increasingly likely that he’s going to up stakes and make a move for the continent. Speaking to the press ahead of the meeting with the Russians, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp played the non-committal card when asked about Coutinho’s future and though he didn’t completely rule out a January exit for the Brazilian, it’s highly unlikely that the Reds hierarchy would allow him to up stakes in the middle of the season. That being said, if it was up to a certain Scouse defender, he wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Joining the diminutive attacker for his post-match press call, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was on hand to not only provide a bit of comic relief, but also insist that Coutinho is staying on Merseyside. When the Brazilian’s phone started ringing, former Norwegian striker Jan Aage Fjortoft — who was conducting the interview — joked that it was Barcelona calling. Left red faced, the 25-year old remained mum on the topic, but Carragher was quick to pipe up with a “No, he’s staying!” to even more laughter.
The quip might have sounded innocent enough, but it could very well have been construed as a threat. Carragher, as you know from his playing days, doesn’t mix words…