The Coutinho-To-Barcelona saga took a bit of a turn on Friday, and it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better.
Following Liverpool’s 3-3 draw at Watford on Saturday to open the new Premier League season, manager Jürgen Klopp gave an update on the situation, saying that Coutinho’s fate was largely out of his hands.
Among those weighing in on an increasingly-tense situation: former Reds captain Steven Gerrard. Speaking on BT Sport during their matchday coverage, Gerrard characterized this situation as complex and delicate, siding firmly with Liverpool while also cutting Coutinho some slack. He also reserved from choice words for Coutinho’s eager suitors.
“The problem here are Barcelona, because they will be saying to Coutinho's representatives: 'It's now or never. If he doesn't come now, we're never coming back for him ever again.' So they're piling the pressure on and that's why Philippe's reacted. This kid who's come from South America has always had a dream of playing for Barcelona, and he's panicking thinking that if he doesn't do it now it'll never happen again.”
When asked whether he has any sympathy for the player:
“A little bit. Of course. I know the kid, I know he's not a bad person, I know he doesn't want to cause a war to come out. But at the end of the day he's just signed a five-year deal, the club have been superb to him and made him the player he is. You remember he was struggling at Inter Milan. We gave him the chance, we built this player up. The least he can do is give the club another year.”
Gerrard was also asked how this compared to the Luis Suárez Saga Of 2013.
“I'm not sure Barcelona were calling for Suárez at that time. There was a bit of speculation in the papers but they were only rumours. I'm not sure Barcelona were there at that time for Suárez. The only people I heard were there for real were Arsenal. They were offering £40m and one pence. For me, what Suárez had done at the club and the relationship he had with the fans, I just sat him down and said: 'Why ruin all that and go and join a club that gives you no guarantees of success? I don't think you're making such a big a jump up. Why don't you be patient, give Liverpool another season? The fans will understand if you give them another year and then Barcelona come.'“
The former England international also made it clear he would not intervene, and that it’s on the club to handle this.
“I'm not involved. I think Jurgen's got it under control, I think FSG have got it under control, and they're the key. There's been times in the past where players have been unsettled and they've gone in and said 'I'm desperate to go' and it's ended up happening. This is a huge test for the club from top to bottom to try and be as strong as they can to the end and don't give in.”
As for his take on how this will all shake out? “Stays, for me.”