Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has played down suggestions of a rift between midfielder Philippe Coutinho and supporters of the club.
The 26-year-old has been rumoured to be dissatisfied with life at the Nou Camp after joining from Liverpool for £142m in January 2018, with reports indicating that he is looking to engineer a summer exit. Such speculation appears to have irked some Blaugrana fans, with whistles and jeers greeting Coutinho when he was brought on during Saturday's narrow 2-1 league victory over Real Sociedad.
The abuse raining down from the stands followed the Barça star's controversial celebration after scoring against Manchester United in the Champions League in midweek. After beating David de Gea he proceeded to put his fingers in his ears, a blatant message to his critics at the La Liga champions.
However, Valverde has denied that Coutinho's relationship with the Barcelona fandom has soured. After the match against Sociedad he was asked about the Brazilian's situation at the club and responded by declaring (as quoted by BarcaCentre): "The public is with Coutinho and Coutinho is with the public."
That defiant statement was all the Spaniard had to say regarding the matter, evidently feeling that no more needed to be added. He swiftly moved on to discussing Barcelona's win, saying: "Today was a very important game because we still needed nine points to become champions; the points must be achieved.
"The match was uncomfortable for us in the first half because they were playing well, [Clement] Lenglet's goal gave us peace of mind."
Lenglet and fellow defender Jordi Alba scored either side of Juanmi's deft finish, with Coutinho making his appearance off the bench in the dying embers of the contest. The former Reds playmaker was largely ineffectual, though he had scarce opportunity to showcase his talents in a short cameo.