RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil soccer coach Tite has told midfielder Philippe Coutinho to play for whatever club would make him happy and complained that transfer speculation had affected the national squad’s preparations for Thursday’s match against Ecuador.
Liverpool’s Coutinho is being pursued by Spanish club Barcelona, though the English Premier League side’s manager Juergen Klopp has said he does not want to sell the Brazilian.
“I told him (Coutinho) that I want him to go wherever he feels happy,” Tite told a press conference ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier in Porto Alegre.
Coutinho has not played for Liverpool this season because of injury. However, Tite defended Brazil’s decision to insist that the midfielder travel to South America for the match.
“The Brazilian team doctor has spoken to Liverpool’s doctor and our director with their directors. I haven’t been in touch because I don’t speak English,” he said, adding that Coutinho would not play against Ecuador.
“We are not going to take any risks but, on the other hand, we are not going to do without him in the squad.”
The transfer window closes on Thursday in most European countries and on Friday in Spain.
“It affects us and it will continue affecting us until the end,” said Tite, whose side have already qualified for the World Cup finals.
“It effects the players emotionally. It also affects the coach, who has to take into consideration situations which are nothing to do with the field of play.”
Tite’s comments chimed with the thoughts of Italy coach Giampiero Ventura, who said this week that the uncertainties caused by the transfer window had hampered his preparations for Italy’s key World Cup qualifier against Spain.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by David Goodman