Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted there was “not a story” when questioned about reports suggesting injury-prone striker Daniel Sturridge is looking to leave the club in the summer.
The England international has been sidelined since early December with a hamstring problem, the latest in a long list of issues which has made him unavailable for more days than not since arriving at the club three years ago.
There was talk on Friday that Sturridge was ready to end his stay at Anfield as he was fed up with public criticism, and there was an inference the 26-year-old was unhappy with how his situation had been handled by the club.
But Klopp was dismissive of the report, maintaining there was little substance to the claims.
“If someone wants to ask me something about what they have heard about, then they can ask me, but not ‘suggestions’ – I am not interested in this,” the German said.
“The Daniel story is not a story. How can it be a story? You cannot create stories and then ask me.
“If someone wants to say something, at least write your name under it and don’t suggest something that is not too cool.
“It is absolutely not frustrating – it is not interesting.
“There is absolutely nothing to say about it. I have heard nothing.
“Daniel has been back in training two days and that is great, so everything looks good in this moment. Now it is normal football training.
“What Daniel needs, what each player needs, is consistent training, training, training – that is normal to be fit for Premier League football.
“Obviously there were a few problems in the past with a few injuries, not just since I was here, and that is part of the truth, but this is the past and it would be cool if we could leave it there and we can start from now on.
“We tried everything we could to bring him to this shape and now we are in the moment when hopefully we can get the benefit of this work.
“He’s not available this weekend because of training.”
Sturridge will not be available for the visit of Sunderland and neither will fellow striker Divock Origi and playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who also both returned to training this week after hamstring injuries.
Klopp has always maintained he will be patient with players coming back after long spells out and he will apply that approach to this trio.
“Divock, Phil and Daniel are in training and you think after five minutes we should put them in the squad?” he added.
“That is the moment when you have to say ‘Come on, we have to have another three sessions which we can use and maybe be available for West Ham (the FA Cup fourth-round replay on Tuesday)’.”
Klopp had hoped to boost his squad in January by adding Shakhtar Donetsk forward Alex Teixeira but after their initial bid of £24million was rejected the price rocketed and the club backed off.
As a result they lost out on the player as Teixeira made a shock move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning for £38million.
“First of all I think we should respect we all can make our own decisions and our own decisions are a sign for a new development,” said Klopp of the news.
“In a lot of parts of Europe people talk about the financial power of England because of the television contract and now maybe it (China) is another competitor, I don’t know.
“If you are 26 and you get an offer like an offer he got everyone would think about it.
“There are a few problems less for the next generations of Teixeiras I think but it is good news for the whole (Teixeira) family.
“I have no problem with this, it is absolutely normal in football. I don’t think it is a sign in general.”