Coutinho Wins Power Struggle and Liverpool Have to Move on from It
Players still hold the balance of power at the top end of the game in the modern era. If there was any doubt on that matter, Philippe Coutinho’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona for £142 million confirmed it.
Liverpool deserved immense praise for holding firm in the face of Barcelona’s efforts to sign the player in the summer, but Coutinho finally got his wish once the January window swung open.
The money, the second-highest fee in the history of the game behind Neymar’s move to PSG from Barcelona for £200 million, could well turn out to a be good piece of business for Liverpool – but the timing just does not make any sense for the Reds.
Liverpool are in the knockout stages of the Champions League and in a battle to secure top-four spot in the Premier League. Coutinho, with 15 goals and eight assists, was instrumental to their challenge on both fronts.
After the disappointment of failing to secure a move in the summer, Coutinho got his head down and delivered consistent excellence – so there’s nothing to suggest he would have downed tools had the Reds knocked back Barca’s advances.
Instead, the Reds bowed to pressure – and it was player pressure as much as what was coming their way from Catalunya.
“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known,” Reds boss Jurgen Klopp told the club’s official website. “Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
“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.”
Liverpool did not do everything in their power, as Klopp claimed, to keep him. If they had, he would still be at Anfield as he was a contracted player to the club – a club he committed to only 12 months ago when happily penning a five-year contract.
They bowed to pressure, player pressure, and the key for the club – and Klopp in particular – is justifying the decision. The only way to do that will be to ensure they finish in the top four in the Premier League to guarantee a seat at Europe’s top table, and reinvest the funds to the full.
Replacing a player of Coutinho’s calibre will not be easy, rival clubs will know the money Liverpool are armed with and will demand top dollar for any players they make bids for. But the money they have banked is huge and a massive profit on the £8.5 million they paid Inter Milan for the Brazilian in 2013.
The Reds now have to draw a line under the affair, move forward and prove to the fans that the decision was the right one.
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