For most Liverpool fans, Philippe Coutinho’s departure will go down as one of the worst, most acrimonious parting of ways between club and player, with many remembering the way the player appeared to feign injury and have his representatives drag manager Jürgen Klopp in the press.
To hear Klopp talk about it now, though, behind the scenes things may not have seemed quite so dire. Or perhaps, for public consumption at least, the Liverpool manager sees no need now to add to the acrimony. In any case, Klopp was asked recently about the move—and says he respected it.
“It felt oh wow that could be difficult,” Klopp told Pure Football Podcast of the decision facing the player when Barcelona came calling. “So it’s not about yes we signed a new contract so many weeks before that but it was really clear he would not have asked me for any other club.”
That new contract was a stickling point for many, as no matter how appealing Barcelona were, Coutinho had only just signed a new Liverpool deal and committed to spending—at the very least—the coming season at the club before making his very late switch to pushing for a move.
And while it may not have looked it as he missed Champions League qualifiers and stories of a deteriorating relationship were leaked, Klopp says Coutinho was agreeable when asked to stay six months. Which is something. Even if it doesn’t quite line up with how many will remember it.
“We had to be hard in the summer,” Klopp noted. “We lost Adam Lallana as well, [so] we would have lost two players. You cannot solve that on the transfer market. He was open to that and then you have to be fair in the [next] window and say we can do it. We don’t like it but we can do it.”
However, while he might not seem as bothered by Coutinho’s departure as many fans remain, it’s highly unlikely the Brazilian could end up back at Anfield—even if it seems as though Bayern aren’t likely to keep him beyond the current season and Barcelona don’t appear to want him back.
“Phil was our boy for a long time,” Klopp added. “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.”