SINSHEIM, Germany -- Jurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho "cannot play for Liverpool in this moment" and labelled the Brazilian's absence from the team as a "blow."
Coutinho did not travel with the Liverpool squad to Germany for the first leg of their Champions League playoff tie against Hoffenheim on Tuesday, as uncertainty around his future remains.
The Brazil international handed in a transfer request on Friday, but Liverpool's owners, Fenway Sports Group, remain adamant the player will not be sold after rejecting two offers from Barcelona.
"Nothing has changed in the last few days -- not on one side or the other side," Klopp told a news conference at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Monday. "He's not available for us in the moment -- that's the main issue.
"He cannot play for Liverpool in this moment. How everyone can imagine, that's quite a blow for us. We know a few days about it, so we can prepare this game without him, like we have to prepare the game without Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, who is in a good way -- I had a talk with him this morning, he is really close, but now two more sessions and then he will be available for the weekend."
When asked again about Coutinho, Klopp refused to add to his previous answer, insisting he was only focused on the meeting with Julian Nagelsmann's side.
"I really understand that everybody is interested in this, but I can't say that in this moment I'm thinking about it," he added.
"I'm here and I'll answer questions. In the car on the way to this press conference I didn't think: 'What can I say if they ask?' because I have to think about the team, who have a session in a few minutes. I always was like this.
"I work with the players I have and don't think about players I don't have -- if they are injured or whatever. It's the same situation for me."
However, in speaking to English newspapers, Klopp confirmed that the final decision will come down to Liverpool's owners, not him.
"If, for example, there is an offer for a player and I say 'No' and the owners say, 'Yes, let's ask for a number on how much they want to pay.' And I say, 'I don't want to hear it'. But they say 'We want to hear it, £50 million ... £50 million is cool.' So then they sell the player -- that is how a club works.
"That is how it was with Hans-Joachim Watzke [chief executive] at Dortmund. Do you think I said, 'Sell Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid as quick as possible?' It was not my decision. The player had a contract. They agreed. I am 100 percent, really, 100 percent [when I say] I don't ask for things I can't get and I respect the rules in the game.
"If [FSG] say [Barcelona] will bid whatever and we [FSG] don't want it then it is a clear message. We don't want money, we want to invest in the team and have the best team because we have aims and dreams. That is the message.
"It's not important what I think. I have the player from Aug. 31 latest, again, or when the back issue is sorted. There is nothing else I can say about it. I think I said 'I have bosses', right? I have many bosses, including my wife. I can live with this, it's no problem. [The owners] are 100 percent clear on it. There is nothing else to say."
Coutinho's captain, Jordan Henderson, says the entire team would want to the No. 10 to stay at Anfield.
"If you asked everyone they'd all want him to stay because he's a world-class player," Henderson said. "It's a difficult situation, but if you ask anyone in the team then of course they'd want him to stay.
"I don't think I can influence the situation, no. But I can have conversations with Phil. He's my teammate and I'm close to him because I've played with him for a number of years. I've got a lot of respect for him. At the end of the day, whatever happens has got nothing to do with me."
He continued: "It's a difficult situation for Phil. Whatever I say probably won't help the situation. As players, [we're] fully focused on the job in hand. As players, you expect in transfer windows things like this to happen -- whether players are going or coming in.
"But you've got to focus on what's important to us as a team and stay together. The game tomorrow is the biggest focus for us as a team. It shouldn't have any effect at all."
Meanwhile, Hoffenheim manager Nagelsmann believes his side go into the two-legged tie as underdogs, but feels his players have the ability to cause an upset.
The 30-year-old coach guided Hoffenheim to a fourth-placed finish in the Bundesliga last term -- their best-ever finish in the club's history.
"We know that Liverpool Football Club is the favourite in this encounter," Nagelsmann said at his prematch news conference. "We know about that.
"We know we can, with a good match, shock our opponent. I don't know if we need to shock them, I don't know if we need to shock the English public, but I can also say that we need a top performance tomorrow in order to do that."