Philippe Coutinho is the transfer story that never ceases to go away. The former Red hasn’t played for Liverpool for two years, yet he remains a player intrinsically linked with a return to Merseyside.
Whilst it is tempting and certainly easy to overlook how significant a player the Brazilian was during a five-year spell at Anfield that culminated in 54 goals in 201 games for the Reds.
According to the Liverpool ECHO, Jurgen Klopp has been touted with a potential reunion with the player who was in the form of his career before he left the club in January 2018.
Whilst many supporters would make room for any Brazilian No.10 with ‘inho’ in his name, Coutinho’s Liverpool legacy was tarnished through his controversial exit.
Klopp showcased how loyal he was to Coutinho in a desperate attempt to keep the 27-year-old on Merseyside. The German manager even made the talented playmaker captain on a number of occasions to demonstrate the unwavering faith Klopp had in his former No.10.
Sadly, Coutinho didn’t share that same loyalty and proved to be a disjointed figure in the squad after being refused his desired move to Barcelona. Coutinho behaved awfully and chaos turned to anarchy when the player handed in a transfer request the day before Liverpool’s opening match of the 2017/18 season against Watford.
Klopp made it apparent that the owners had to be clear with Coutinho and demonstrate that his future was to be with Liverpool. The former Borussia Dortmund manager demanded 100 per cent commitment or you were cut adrift altogether.
Coutinho opted for the latter and proved to be difficult even in a period that saw the Brazilian’s best form in a Liverpool shirt after the Reds had secured Champions League knockout football for the first time since 2009.
The former Inter Milan prodigy who came to Anfield following an £8.5m [BBC Sport] move in 2013 was breathtaking in the final few months of his Liverpool tenure. Coutinho had clocked up seven Premier League goals before the turn of the year and was also the team’s top-scorer in Europe with five following an impressive hat-trick against Spartak Moscow in December 2017.
However, Barcelona came calling again in January and Coutinho still wanted out. Klopp refused for the club to be bullied by the Spanish giants once again following the Luis Suarez saga.
Liverpool had lost players in the past on other club’s terms but not this time. Ideally, Liverpool would have kept Coutinho until the end of the season and even offered him a new contract with more money but still Coutinho would not be swayed.
Even though Coutinho couldn’t represent Barcelona in the Champions League, his mind was set on Spain. Klopp spoke to the player personally and asked him to sit tight for five months but still, the manager and player were stuck at an impasse.
Klopp then realised the club couldn’t stop Coutinho even if they tried so both Liverpool and Barcelona agreed on a gargantuan transfer fee of £142m making Coutinho the third most expensive signing in history.
Whilst it’s tempting to bring back a former hero who was truly capable of winning football matches on his own.
Klopp has proven to be an incredibly loyal manager but is also one who expects that loyalty to come back the other way. With Coutinho, he didn’t have that and that is something that isn’t forgotten too easily.
There is no doubting that Coutinho can still be the world-class talent we know, but it is worth remembering just how badly he behaved towards the end and whether it is something that can truly be forgiven.