Philippe Coutinho’s departure from Liverpool in January 2018 saw Jurgen Klopp handed some key transfer advice by legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the Scot has revealed.
Coutinho was regarded as one of the world’s best players when Barcelona shelled out a club-record £142m to take the Brazilian from Anfield to the Nou Camp and end a near two-year chase for the player. Sadly for Liverpool, though, that deal looks like it will fall £35m short due to his failure to meet his targets there.
The move to Spain, however, has gone far worse than expected for Coutinho, who has been since loaned to Bayern Munich and now told he can leave Barca with fees of just £75million – almost half what they paid for him – being bandied about. He is one of numerous stars set to cleared out by the club as they plan wholesale changes this summer.
A move to Chelsea now looks to be on – just don’t talk about the fee to a clearly incensed Gary Neville!
Coutinho’s dream would probably be to return to Liverpool, a club he apparently, wishes he’d never actually left, though any return to Anfield seems highly unlikely, despite these kind comments from Klopp.
Now it has emerged that the German felt he’d been backed into a corner by Coutinho when, late in 2017, the player made clear his wishes to leave for Barcelona.
And revealing the advice he gave to Klopp at the time, Ferguson revealed: “I think strong management is crucial in this situation.
“Part of your job as a coach also is to educate your players’ character so they have a responsibility to what they’re doing.
“Obviously, in some cases, that is changing a bit. It’s disappointing because I’m sure that, in the case of Liverpool, they did a very good job in making Coutinho the player he is today.
“So, it’s a bit disappointing but you have to deal with it and the transfer window doesn’t help in that situation.
“If it closed in July, Coutinho would have continued playing and it would have been gone. The matter would have been over.
“The recommendation we look at is to close the window before the season starts, so everyone knows which players they’ve got and aren’t waiting to see what the first results are going to be.”
Klopp discusses Coutinho exit
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.”