De Futebol

Liverpool defeated Leicester City 2-1 in preseason action.

The Daily Mail:” Liverpool fans do not need a reminder of why the club needs to keep Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho. In Hong Kong they got two, anyway.

On 20 minutes, much to the disappointment of the red-shirted hordes in the stands, Leicester City were leading this pre-season clash thanks to an Islam Slimani header.

Then the Brazilian playmaker, subject of a €80million (£72m) bid from the Catalan giants this week, stepped up.

There appeared to be little danger for the Foxes when Coutinho received a pass on the edge of the box from £36.9m new man Mohamed Salah.

But the Egyptian had continued his run into the area and with one little dink, Coutinho found him all alone, next to the penalty spot to head the equaliser.

On the brink of half-time, provider turned poacher. Picking the ball up 30 yards out, the 25–year-old cut inside right back Daniel Amartey and suddenly was in room.

One flick of Coutinho’s right boot later, Kasper Schmeichel was on the floor and the ball was in his far corner. The Mongolian Kopites with their banner behind the goal loved it. Their emotions will have been shared on the red half of Merseyside.

It is these flashes of brilliance, the ability to unlock a defence, to score from nowhere, which even €80m cannot buy. Jurgen Klopp knows this. That is why his teams practice against bus parking defences in training. It is why, when asked about the bid this week, he declared that the player is not for sale.

If they are to make that next step, to break that 27-year top-flight title drought, Coutinho must stay. Barcelona may well come back with more bids.

History (Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling) tells us that Liverpool’s players have a price. We may soon find out if that remains the case.

Their manager is adamant it is not. Klopp’s men had started well, with every trick and flick drawing a rapturous response from an adoring crowd at the Premier League’s Asia Trophy final. But it was the Foxes who drew first blood.

With a dozen minutes on the clock, after some neat build-up featuring Riyad Mahrez, Christian Fuchs crossed and Slimani outjumped James Milner at the far post to power a header into the back of the net.

Following the Coutinho show and the break a lively Jamie Vardy came close to equalising three times as the Foxes rallied.

This will be an interesting season for Leicester. Their story has been told and it is time to write a chapter. You get the impression that a couple of new faces, and the retention of Mahrez, and it may be an interesting one.

Coutinho, meanwhile, was replaced to rapturous applause on 55 minutes. The crowd here knew it. Everybody of a Liverpool persuasion knows it.