Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he will “have to accept” it if Philippe Coutinho leaves but expects the club owners to refuse to sell the player.
Klopp suggested the decision was out of his hands as the “bosses will decide”.
Liverpool drew 3-3 at Watford in their opening game of the season, which Coutinho missed with a back injury.
Ex-England defender Danny Mills told BBC Radio 5 live that Liverpool should “bite the bullet” and sell the 25-year-old.
He added: “I don’t think Philippe Coutinho will stay at Anfield. He started with a statement calling for an amicable move, but four days later he submitted a transfer request. It is his dream move and I don’t blame him in the slightest.
“Ultimately, Coutinho will simply remain unhappy and Liverpool simply need to bite the bullet. The club has a £100m asset there, a player who may want to force a move.”
‘I have no influence’
Spanish giants Barca have moved for the Brazilian after selling countryman Neymar to Paris St-Germain for a world record transfer of £200m.
The Spanish club’s second offer to Liverpool for Coutinho, which was rejected immediately, comprised an initial 85 million euros (£76.8m) plus 15 million euros (£13.5m) in add-ons.
In a statement on Friday, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group said its “definitive stance” was that “no offers will be considered”.
Asked after Saturday’s match if the transfer request changed anything, Klopp said: “You have to ask the club, but I don’t think so because I think it was pretty clear what FSG said about it.”
The German added to Sky Sports: “I am responsible for the whole team, all the players, so I need to be focused on the players who are available. The players who are not available, I have no influence over it.
“I have to accept decisions from the owners, that’s how it is, and sometimes from the players. At this moment I am just concentrating on my team.”
‘Coutinho could stay’
Liverpool signed Coutinho from Inter Milan for £8.5m in 2013 and midfielder was the club’s leading scorer last season with 14 goals in all competitions.
He signed a new five-year deal in January, which did not include a release clause.
“In my opinion, Liverpool should say ‘thank you very much for your service, we’ll keep this professional, on you go’,” ex-Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas told BBC Radio 5 live.
“The problem is are Barcelona ever going to come back? If they go out and find someone else, that chance has gone.
“He will be looking at this from a player’s perspective going: ‘This is my opportunity. I’ve given everything I can for Liverpool, this is my one chance to get to Barcelona and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there’.
“It is going to get messy. The player wants to leave. The club have given him almost nowhere to move.”
Former England defender Matthew Upson feels otherwise. He said: “I think Philippe Coutinho could well still be at Liverpool at the end of the transfer window. A lot of money is on offer but I can’t see that Liverpool need that money.”
How a topsy-turvy Friday unfolded
- 10:00 BST – Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group releases statement saying its “definitive stance” is that “no offers for Coutinho will be considered”.
- 11:00 – Jurgen Klopp holds his pre-match news conference and says Coutinho has a back problem and is likely to miss the next two games. The German says the midfielder has not fully trained in a week.
- 12:20 – Reports surface that Coutinho has handed in a transfer request. Sky Sports reports a member of his family as saying: “Philippe has tried very hard to find an amicable solution to this situation but to no avail.”
- 12:30 – Liverpool deny reports Coutinho has asked to leave.
- 13:50 – It emerges Coutinho emailed the club after training, stating his desire to leave.