Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has explained the reasons behind the club’s decision to finally accept a bid from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho.
After months and months of speculation linking the Brazilian with a move to the Camp Nou; both clubs confirmed that a deal had been reached and the former Espanyol man arrived in the Catalan capital on Saturday evening to complete all the necessary paper work.
Having rejected numerous bids last summer from Barca; it was thought that Anfield bosses would once again hold firm this month but an up front payment of £105m, plus £40m in additional bonuses was too good to turn down.
Klopp is a big admirer of Coutinho – will now face the remaining six months with one of his stand out players, whilst Barca boss Ernesto Valverde now has a handful of options for his midfield area.
German Klopp, who has previously been resolute in keeping Coutinho at Anfield, spoke for the first time about the move, saying Liverpool had to sell this month.
Explaining the move, Klopp said as quoted by Liverpool Echo: “It is with great reluctance that we – as a team and club – prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho.
“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known.
“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
“Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.
“I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of LFC was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100 per cent certain his future – and that of his family – belongs at Barcelona. It is his dream and I am now convinced there is nothing left at our disposal to change his mind.”
The former Borussia Dortmund boss then took time to praise Coutinho professionalism at the club after failing to secure a move to Barcelona over the summer.
“Philippe has made a fantastic contribution to this club over his five years of service and as disappointed as we are he doesn’t want to extend that, the relationship we have for him means with a heavy heart we wish him well,” Klopp said.
“The player remained dedicated and committed to helping us win matches, producing good performances and training hard each day at Melwood after the summer window had closed, despite failing to convince us to allow him to leave during that period and that level of professionalism reflects positively on him.
“Of course, it is totally understandable that supporters will be disappointed; this is always the case when you have to say goodbye to someone special. But, as hard as it is sometimes to accept, it is part of life and part of football – individuals have their own dreams and their own goals and objectives in life.
“Players will come and players will go, that is football, but as a club we are big enough and strong enough to continue with our aggressive progression on the pitch, even when we lose an important player. We have never been in a better position in recent times, as a club, to react in the right way. We will use our size and strength to absorb moments like this and still move forward.”
Coutinho is expected to make his official La Liga debut this weekend as Barcelona travel to Real Sociedad, although a minor muscle injury could see him miss out and wait until the following fixture against Real Betis.
Barca, who sit comfortably at the top of La Liga, beat Levante 3-0 on Sunday afternoon thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Paulinho.