Jurgen Klopp gave his former Liverpool player Philippe Coutinho a warm embrace and a wide smile as they met in the tunnel at Villa Park on Tuesday.
Liverpool headed to the West Midlands to take on Aston Villa in a crucial game in the Premier League. It was must-win game for The Reds. In footage seen from Liverpool FC on Youtube, there was a nice moment before the match, with Klopp meeting Coutinho.
The manager could be seen grinning from ear-to-ear as he clasped Coutinho’s hand before hugging the 29-year-old. Coutinho couldn’t hide his smile either as the two men faced each other in the Premier League for the first time.
The Brazilian then moved on to members of Klopp’s backroom team, who were greeted with equal enthusiasm.
Having moved along, Coutinho spent a moment to speak with his old Liverpool teammate Roberto Firmino. Klopp then watched on with a smile as the player shared a hug with Thiago Alcantara, whom he spent a year together with at Bayern Munich.
Coutinho back for good
Coutinho now looks as though he’ll be back in the Premier League on a permanent basis next season. Villa are seemingly likely to sign him up full-time this summer.
That will give the Brazil international the chance to return to the place he played his best football – Anfield.
On the evidence of Tuesday night’s performance though, Liverpool shouldn’t be too worried. Coutinho had one or two nice moments, most notably a cheeky nutmeg through the legs of Virgil Van Dijk.
By and large the attacking midfielder was quiet though. It’s a shame to see him dropping so drastically from the top level, he was one of the best players in the league when he left Liverpool in 2018.
Prior to him signing for Villa, he was repeatedly linked with a return to The Reds. For now, he doesn’t look at that level. Hopefully Steven Gerrard can help him to regain the confidence that has seeped away in the intervening years.
There are some Liverpool fans who can’t forgive Coutinho for the way in which he left Liverpool. But all things told, The Reds got an unbelievable deal that helped them sign Alisson Becker and Van Dijk. That in turn propelled them to the heights they’re currently hitting.
He is clearly fondly thought of by Klopp and his former teammates. If he does return to play at Anfield next season, the home crowd will surely give him the reception he is due, too. Only after collecting three points that is though!