Jurgen Klopp told Philippe Coutinho in 2017 that he should stay at the club and fans would reward him with a statue but if he joined Barcelona he would be “just another player.”
When Manchester United hosted Barcelona at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, Lionel Messi was, as per usual, the centre of attention. There was, however, another subplot that was developing involving Philippe Coutinho.
Just over a year after joining the Spanish outfit, the Brazilian midfielder was back in England playing football and although his team won, things could not have gone worse for him.
Compared to the electric form he displayed while playing for Liverpool at the tail end of 2017, the Barcelona no.7 looked devoid of the cockiness, flair and unbelievable quality that earned him a record-breaking move to La Liga.
Despite the fact that a fair amount of Liverpool fans want to see him back in a Red kit, there was a feeling of schadenfreude at seeing him struggle in a game that meant so much.
Before he finally got his move to Barcelona, Coutinho showed a lack of class by faking injury, refusing to train and doing his best to agitate Jurgen Klopp into selling him.
That was in the summer of 2017. Before the start of the 2017/18 season, the Liverpool manager issued a weighty warning to Coutinho, telling the Independent: “Stay here and they will end up building a statue in your honour.
“Go somewhere else, to Barcelona, to Bayern Munich, to Real Madrid, and you will be just another player. Here you can be something more.”
Eight months after that prophecy, Coutinho sealed a move to Barcelona and, although he is set to win his second La Liga title at the end of the season, his time in Spain has been plagued by bad form and disdain from supporters.
Klopp warned Coutinho about what might happen if he left a club like Liverpool, whose fans are adoration personified. He was loved by Reds all over the world and he is unlikely to find similar support from the Barcelona fan base.
It is rather sad as he could have become a legend at Liverpool and there is unlikely to be a chance to return or to mend the bridges that have been burned.