Philippe Coutinho insists he is not surprised by the progress Liverpool have made since his departure but is adamant he has “no regrets” at his decision to quit Anfield.
The Brazilian star disappointed the Merseysiders when pushing through a £142million switch to Barcelona back in January 2018, but the move has proved a terrible career choice for Coutinho, who has since been farmed out on loan to Bayern Munich and now looks set to be allowed to leave for a cut-price £65million this summer.
And while Liverpool invested their windfall to sign the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker in two moves seen as key to them securing Champions League glory and pushing them to the brink of Premier League success, Coutinho’s future remains very much in the air.
However, the Bayern loanee admits he is proud to have played a role in their history and insists their success since he departed does not surprise him.
“Liverpool is flying, and it doesn’t surprise me,” Coutinho told Sports Illustrated.
“We’ve seen it already last year when they won the Champions League, but I’m also not surprised because of their fantastic squad and manager.
“I am so happy for them, because I have so many friends there, former team-mates, so I’m just so happy for them, but that’s all.
“I don’t look back. I took another path, and now I am on another journey, much like everyone else. I’m focused entirely – just like them – on reaching my dreams. I’m happy with what I did in the past, and now I can only look forward.”
Reports in Tuesday’s European papers named Liverpool as one of five suitors who were all temped to take a nibble at Barca’s new lower fee for the player, former Reds striker John Aldridge has advised Klopp to stay clear.
And despite admitting Coutinho is still a “very good player”, Aldridge believes his return is not what Liverpool need.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Aldridge said: “I see the topic of whether Liverpool should try and bring Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield has reared its head again.
“For me, he was and still is a really good player and, with the squad we’ve got now I’m sure he’d do very well but I lean more towards the ‘never go back’ argument.
“It can work sometimes but he’s on a lot more money at Barcelona which could be a potential problem and of course there would be the question of how much cash Barca would want from Liverpool for him.
“I would imagine the squad would welcome him back as he’s a really good fella and I couldn’t see that being a problem but I just don’t see it as something I would go for if it was me calling the shots.
“Ultimately Coutinho chose to leave, we got top dollar for him and it’s worked in our favour.
“We went out and brought in Van Dijk and Alisson for pretty much the same money and you have to say we haven’t looked back since – European champions, world champions and a 22-point lead at the top of the league as we look to end this 30-year weight for a league title.
“I wish the lad well but at the end of the day what’s happened to him shows that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
“It used to be said years ago if you left Liverpool there was only one way to go and that’s down, and it’s a sign of the times that some players are now discovering that again.”
For Coutinho, however, his immediate focus will turn back to Bayern Munich. The Bavarians are currently top of Bundesliga and are preparing for a Champions League last-16 meeting with Chelsea later this month.
Aldridge, meanwhile, has waxed lyrical about the qualities of an exciting young Reds midfielder – and believes his emergence in the first team can save Klopp millions in the transfer market this summer.