Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has spoken for the first time about his potential move to Barcelona in the summer.
The Brazilian returned to action for Liverpool against Sevilla in the Champions League midweek and made his first start of the new campaign in the 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday.
Coutinho got 78 minutes under his belt and was given a warm ovation before the game but, with frustration growing at Anfield, did not receive much of an applause when Jurgen Klopp replaced him with new boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The 25-year-old was the subject of three huge bids from Barcelona, the last coming in at a staggering £114m and despite Coutinho handing in a transfer request, Liverpool stood firm and held on to their man.
Coutinho has now spoken about the summer-long transfer saga, saying he was honoured to be targeted by a European giant and insisting he is now fully focused helping the Reds achieve their aims this term.
‘What happened was a job offer and, in life, sometimes you get interested,’ Coutinho told ‘ESPN Brazil’ before he left Anfield on Saturday. ‘Sometimes you don’t and, in my case, everyone knows that I got interested, my family too.
‘But as I have always said, it is a great offer to receive an offer from such a great club like that. But it is also a great honour being here. Liverpool is a great club worldwide. I’m here and I will give my best as always. I’m working hard, my thoughts are on the team’s goals, making a good season.’
Of the persistent speculation about his future, Coutinho explained: ‘It was a complicated month for me but as I have said, it is an honour to receive that offer but it is also an honour to wear this shirt, so what I can do is work hard and honour that on the field. It is all cool.’
Reports are suggesting that Barcelona have already agreed a deal to bring the Brazil international to the Nou Camp in January, but Coutinho brushed aside any such claims.
‘ESPN Brazil’ asked that exact question, to which he replied, ‘Not that I know of. I am in a place that I have always been given respect by everyone and (I) too respect everyone.
‘I have conquered my space in four, five years and never had any problems with anyone – the fans, the board, my team-mates, the coaching staff. That has not changed. As I have said, in life, in every job you get an offer, interested or not. It is all in the past.’