Jurgen Klopp has opened up on Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona and admits that Liverpool stood ‘no chance’ of keeping the playmaker at the club.
Coutinho established himself as one of the finest attacking talents in world football during a memorable five-season spell on Merseyside, starring as the creative hub of Klopp’s side before drawing admiring glances from Catalonia.
Liverpool resisted Barcelona’s initial approaches for the Brazilian before begrudgingly accepting a big-money bid for the player during the 2018 January transfer window, Coutinho having indicated his desire to leave the club and head to Spanish football.
Klopp has now explained the difficult decision to allow the star to leave the club, but admits the Reds were powerless to retain a player who had set his heart on a dream move to the Camp Nou.
“I really respected Phil’s switch from the first second,” Klopp told the Pure Football Podcast. “Not that I [don’t] do that all the time, but it felt really like ‘oh wow that could be difficult [to keep him]’.
“So it’s not about yes we signed a new contract only weeks before that, but it was really clear he wouldn’t have asked me for any other club – but for this club there was no chance.
“Then we had to be hard in the summer because we had no other solution. We lost Adam Lallana [to injury] in that time as well, we would have lost two players. That’s not possible, you cannot solve that on the transfer market.
“He was open to that [staying] and that was really cool. Then you have to be fair in the window and say we can do it, we don’t like it but we can do it.”
Coutinho has struggled since leaving Liverpool and was deemed surplus to requirements by Barcelona last summer, heading to Bayern Munich on a season-long loan deal where he has similarly failed to make an impression.
The Brazil international has been linked with a return to the Premier League in recent months, though a return to Merseyside looks unlikely despite Klopp’s retaining his admiration for the 27-year-old.
“Phil was our boy for a long time,” said Klopp. “We respect him a lot and wish him all the best.
“That’s how football should be. That’s the most important thing the club showed in that moment.”