Liverpool reject Barcelona's £72m offer for Philippe Coutinho - Their five biggest sales

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Liverpool have reportedly turned down a £72m bid for Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona, saying their prized playmaker is not for sale.

If a deal were to go through at that price, the fee would be the second-highest Liverpool have received for a player – and there’s every chance Coutinho could break the club record if Barcelona decide to up the ante.

Here’s a look at Liverpool’s five biggest sales and their careers beyond Anfield.

LUIS SUAREZ TO BARCELONA, 2014 – £75m

Suarez was briefly the club’s record signing before being eclipsed by Andy Carroll, but few could outdo his impact on the pitch. The Uruguayan was an instant hit at Anfield and nearly led them to a first-ever Premier League title in 2013-14 when the Reds fell just short of capturing the crown despite Suarez’s 31 league goals.

It’s fair to say that a great but short Liverpool career has been topped by Suarez’s exploits at Barcelona, where he won the treble in his first season and followed it up with a league-and-cup double the next year.

Suarez instantly became one of La Liga’s deadliest strikers, rivalling Cristiano Ronaldo and teammate Lionel Messi on the scoring charts. He won the 2015-16 Pichichi with 40 goals.

FERNANDO TORRES TO CHELSEA, 2011 – £50m

For a long time, Fernando Torres seemed destined to be the ultimate high-priced flop. He struggled with injuries and form for most of his time at Chelsea, and rarely demonstrated the brilliance that had convinced the Blues to fork over £50m for him in the first place.

However, he etched his place in Chelsea folklore with the goal that clinched their passage to the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, which the Blues went onto win.

Torres is now enjoying a relatively successful resurgence at boyhood club Atletico Madrid.

RAHEEM STERLING TO MANCHESTER CITY, 2015 – £49m

Raheem Sterling was part of that fateful near-miss in 2014 along with Luis Suarez, and a year later he too decided he wanted out of Anfield. A contract stand-off and an ill-advised interview ensured he’d become one of the most hated figures among Liverpool fans, a status that has yet to change in the two years since he moved to Manchester City.

He struggled in his first season at City, leading many to deride him as an overpriced flop, but when Pep Guardiola arrived in 2016, Sterling began to thrive.

Although City had a poor season by their standards, he was one of the team’s outstanding players. His play alongside fellow young stars Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus has fans salivating at the thought of an attacking triumvirate that could dominate for years to come.

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE TO CRYSTAL PALACE, 2016 – £32m

Usually, a player who scores an outstanding solo goal for Liverpool at Old Trafford would become an instant hero. Alas, it was not to be for Christian Benteke, as he struggled to fit into Jurgen Klopp’s system after the German arrived in 2015. He lasted just one season at Anfield before being sold to Crystal Palace.

The move to Selhurst Park has so far worked out well for the Belgian striker, as 2016-17 saw Benteke score 15 league goals. Two of them came in a shock win for the Eagles at Anfield, Benteke’s first trip back to the club that cast him off.

XABI ALONSO TO REAL MADRID, 2009 – £30m

This remains one of the more baffling decisions Liverpool have made, with Rafa Benitez deciding to replace Alonso with Gareth Barry. The Englishman never came in the end, opting for Manchester City instead.

Meanwhile, Alonso was sold to Real Madrid, where he won his first league title. He also picked up a Champions League medal with Madrid, and won the World Cup and Euro 2012 as a Real Madrid player, before moving to Bayern, where he won three more league titles.

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Jurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho "loves Liverpool and loves the city" amid Barca interest

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A moment of Philippe Coutinho magic lifted Liverpool to a 2-1 preseason victory over Leicester City in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday.

With Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp rejecting a big-money offer from Barcelona for Coutinho earlier this week, the mercurial Brazilian underlined his important to the Reds with a flash of individual brilliance in Hong Kong.

The 25-year-old picked the ball up on the left of the area on the stroke of halftime, jinked his way inside and let fly with a superb right-foot strike that proved to be the game-winner.

“Everybody knows that Phil Coutinho is a key player for us,” Klopp told reporters.

“He loves the club, he loves the city – he is a fantastic footballer. If he is able to play like tonight, in a very difficult moment of the preseason after all the (training) sessions, that shows his big potential.”

Coutinho had earlier played the role of provider for new signing Mohamed Salah, dinking the ball on to the Egyptian’s head to cancel out Islam Sliminess 12th-minute nodded opener.

Klopp was involved in a heated exchange with referee Bobby Madley in the first half, the German revealing his anger had been sparked by some close attention Coutinho was receiving from the Leicester defenders.

Jurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho "loves the club and loves the city" amid Barcelona interest

“These players make the difference. These players bring people to the stadium,” said Klopp. “That’s why have to look after them a little bit.”

Salah, meanwhile, again demonstrated that the club record £34million Klopp paid Roma for his services looks money well spent.

His pace adding another dimension to Liverpool’s attack, the former Chelsea winger gave Leicester’s Christian Fuchs a torrid time until he was substituted on 65 minutes.

Klopp, whose side beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in midweek to reach the final, is still hoping to bring in Leipzig midfielder Nabi Keita, with Liverpool set to return with a final offer of around £70million for the Guinea international.

For now, it was a case of job done for Liverpool in the Far East.

“It’s really pleasing,” said Klopp. “We’ve played two hard games in very difficult circumstances against very good opponents.”

“Winning both games is a big thing. The boys did well.”

“Yes we conceded a goal. But the line-up was my idea and it was clear that not everything in defence would work. We have big offensive potential but obviously we need to learn how to defend together.”

Palace won the third-place playoff earlier on Saturday, seeing off West Brom 2-0 in a testy affair that saw tempers flare as the players entered the tunnel at halftime.

The match was settled by Luka Milivojevic’s sweetly struck free kick on 11 minutes and a deflected Bakary Sako shot that found the net with three minutes left in the first half.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should excite Man United fans after Man City win

Matt Jones 22/07/2017
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It was a red rising rather than a blue moon as Manchester United made it three wins from three on their US pre-season with a 2-0 victory against Manchester City in Houston on Thursday.

They’d scored seven goals in two warm-ups against the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake previously, but the tour took a serious turn at NRG Stadium, not only because of the opposition, but because United are now into the International Champions Cup phase of the summer.

It was a fine win for United and Jose Mourinho, who saw summer signing Romelu Lukaku net for the second game running, while teenager Marcus Rashford also continued to prove his undoubted talent with a second soon after to set United up for two more mouthwatering fixtures to come, against Real Madrid in California on Sunday and Barcelona in Maryland to close out the US tour on Thursday.

Here, we look at three things Mourinho can take away from this game…

LUKAKU OFFERS SO MUCH MORE THAN IBRAHIMOVIC

It’s hard to play down a 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s impact for Manchester United last season – 28 goals in 46 matches is some way to answer critics who didn’t think he could cut it in the Premier League.

But for all his brilliance in putting the ball in the back of the net, his effect on the team was minimal. Romelu Lukaku, like Ibrahimovic, has his detractors too. But in scoring his second United goal to make it 1-0 against City, you saw a glimpse of how the big Belgian and big Swede are polar opposites in terms of what they can do for their teams.

Both are a nightmare in one on one match-up situations for defenders, their physicality proving a near impossible conundrum to solve. But whereas Ibrahimovic will never beat you with his legs, Lukaku will stretch defences and cause them problems with his speed.

The goal typifies his impressive movement. Paul Pogba’s ball over the top gave him a chance and Red Rom chased it down superbly, showing his pace to get there ahead of two City defenders and goalkeeper Ederson. The finish wasn’t bad either.

It was an insight into what United will get this season from a striker who, for all his tremendous pace, power and goal-scoring ability, also works extremely hard.

Of course, at 35, it was perhaps too much to ask Ibrahimovic to make lung-busting runs down into the channels last season.

But with Lukaku able to do that, he offers United something they’ve been missing, probably since Javier Hernandez was sold to Bayern Leverkusen two summers ago.

Not to mention the space he’ll create for team-mates when he runs and takes defenders with him.

Romelu Lukaku scored his second United goal in two games against City

Romelu Lukaku scored his second United goal in two games against City

DON’T GET TOO EXCITED BY BEATING AN UNDERCOOKED CITY

United continue to look slick as their pre-season opponents stepped a notch, and it’s always nice to win the derby – the first one played out of Manchester – but keep in mind this was City’s opening game of the summer.

True, United were impressive in their pre-season bow, surprisingly light years ahead of an LA Galaxy side in the middle of their MLS campaign. But City will be an entirely different prospect by the time the two sides face each other when it counts, on December 9 at Old Trafford in the Premier League.

Bernardo Silva, their marquee signing of the summer so far, played no part in Houston. Neither did Spanish string-puller David Silva, while the likes of forgotten men Eliaquim Mangala and Samir Nasri, who came on at half time, are unlikely to be in Pep Guardiola’s first team thoughts next season.

Home grown youngsters Oluwatosin Adarabioyo, Patrick Roberts and Phil Foden – the latter two stood out for City – also started the game but will also have to do something pretty special, you’d think, to remain part of Pep’s plans long term.

Leroy Sane in action for City, who were playing their first game of the summer

Leroy Sane in action for City, who were playing their first game of the summer

MAGICIAN MKHITARYAN ALREADY WAVING HIS MAGIC WAND

Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks like he’s in the mood to stamp his mark all over the Premier League next season, judging by the splash he has made across the pond in pre-season.

There were plenty of flashes of the brilliance United fans had come to expect from the Aremenian architect during his time in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in his debut campaign in England.

There were plenty of brilliant assists and a smattering of goals too – who can forget the Scorpion kick strike against Sunderland on Boxing Day and six goals on the road to claiming the Europa League title, including the one to seal the win in the final against Ajax.

He took time to settle initially and was on the wrong end of a tongue-lashing or two from manager Mourinho, for ceding possession too easily and his lack of tracking back to help his defence. Attributes required of the Portuguese whatever your position.

But whereas Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial have found themselves in similar situations but continued to struggle for form and fitness, Mkhitaryan showed visible signs of improvement throughout his maiden ramble in red.

Two goals and two assists in three games in America so far suggest Mkhitaryan has no intention of making such a slow start to his second season at Old Trafford.

United have been impressive flowing forward against Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and City, again something that needs to improve on 2016/17. And Mkhitaryan has been chief creator, knitting all the attacks together to be the tour’s standout man so far.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan continued his impressive summer for United

Henrikh Mkhitaryan continued his impressive summer for United

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