Jurgen Klopp has missed the chance to clarify the future of Philippe Coutinho after avoiding a question about the playmaker, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo: "no-one knows what will happen in the nice and calm January transfer window. It's nice from an outside view, but I have absolutely nothing to say."
Klopp's lack of clarity will keep the rumours of Coutinho being headed for the exit alive for the next two months. In fact, Mundo Deportivo (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star) has named the Brazil international as a prime target for Barcelona in January.
Yet Diario Gol (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) has reported Barca star Lionel Messi is standing in the way of a deal for Coutinho. Either way, links between Liverpool's No. 10 and the Blaugrana haven't gone quiet since he submitted a transfer request at the start of the season.
The move didn't happen, but Coutinho's form at Liverpool hasn't suffered since. Instead, the 25-year-old is playing arguably the best football of his career.
Coutinho has six goals and as many assists in Premier League and UEFA Champions League action. His terrific season continued during Liverpool's 5-1 win away to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
The South American schemer provided a pair of assists, forced an own goal from Lewis Dunk and scored from a brilliant free-kick to continue a trend from distance, per OptaJoe:
It's to Coutinho's credit he has continued to be the creative hub of Liverpool's free-flowing attack amid the ongoing speculation about his future. Yet the same fine performances are keeping Barcelona's interest in the midfielder alive, per Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo.
Keeping Coutinho beyond January would be a coup for Klopp because of the Brazilian's rapport with forward Roberto Firmino and winger Mohamed Salah. Their pace, intuition and flair proved devastating on the break against Brighton.
However, Liverpool won their previous league game 3-0 away to Stoke City with Coutinho on the bench. The Reds were able to rely on wide forward Sadio Mane's pace and movement to compensate.
It's also true Liverpool would get a similar level of creativity from midfield metronome Adam Lallana. The England international has struggled to come back from a lengthy injury absence, but his technique can be an asset in Klopp's expansive brand of football.
Coutinho's future represents a dilemma for Klopp. Either he pushes for the Reds to stand firm and keep the lone world-class player in his squad or he sells Coutinho to Barca and reinvests the money received to fix a shaky defence.