Jurgen Klopp says he had no chance of keeping Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool once the Brazilian’s heart became set on a dream move to Barcelona.
Coutinho’s sparkling displays for the Reds were inevitably going to catch the eye of Europe’s biggest clubs and he eventually sealed a £142million move to Barca in January 2018.
The switch to Spain reunited Coutinho with former Anfield star Luis Suarez but the initial promise soon evaporated as the midfielder’s form fell away.
Eventually Barcelona decided to send him out on loan to Bayern Munich at the start of this season although it seems apparent that the Bundesliga champions are unwilling to make the deal a permanent one.
But before Coutinho’s adventure turned sour, Klopp said Barcelona’s persistent interest was simply too powerful to keep one of his star assets at Liverpool and that he didn’t want to stand in his way.
Speaking to Pure Football Podcast, the German boss said: “I really respected Phil’s switch from the first second.
“Not that I do that all the time, but it felt really like ‘oh wow that could be difficult’.
“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 scored 41 goals in 152 appearances for Liverpool after the Reds captured him for just £8.5million from Inter Milan in 2013.
Barcelona had previously come in for him in the summer of 2017 and, although Liverpool held firm on that occasion, it only seemed to be delaying inevitable.
When the move eventually went through, Klopp said he had no ill will towards Coutinho and wanted to see the bigger picture.
“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.”
Coutinho has since told friends that he regrets leaving Liverpool for Barca with his career currently on the downturn; a move to Chelsea now beckons.