Jürgen Klopp has said it was an easy decision to sell Philippe Coutinho once it became clear Liverpool had “no chance” of keeping the Brazilian committed for the remainder of the season.
The Liverpool manager confirmed he had the final say on accepting Barcelona’s £142m offer for the 25-year-old and that the proceeds of the sale were available to reinvest. Klopp also claimed his team would become more unpredictable without their influential playmaker. It was Coutinho’s determination to force through his dream move to the Camp Nou and his rejection of Liverpool’s attempts to convince him to stay, however, that persuaded Klopp to sanction the second-biggest transfer in world football.
Klopp said: “If I would have said: ‘No way’, the club would have said: ‘OK, let’s try’ [to keep Coutinho] but it was clear there was no chance. It’s not that there was an open question and in the end I had 50% pro, 50% against and had to make a decision. In the end it was quite easy.”
He believes it would have been pointless holding Coutinho to his contract, as the club did in the summer, despite the player’s impressive form in the first half of the campaign. “That was a decision I had to make: does it make sense, do I think I can still use him, can he help us still?” Klopp said. “To be honest, it was 100% clear no chance. It was clear he was not ready to do that any more.”
Klopp elaborated: “It was not that we had a talk and he said my head is somewhere else; it was just clear after we spoke that it would not work out. We had a lot of talks about different things, how we can do this or that, but if somebody denies things like that then it is clear the decision is done. At some point you need to accept it and that is what we did. I can imagine what people have said and written this week and I would think similar if we as a club had not tried everything. If the club said after the first call: ‘Good idea, we wanted to call you actually because we don’t want to have him’ then it would be different. But we tried everything.
“What a football player he is, and he will be such a good player for Barcelona as well, but for us in a few games, like Tottenham away, he was not always in the best shape. It was kind of a solution for us to give him the ball. No. We don’t have to look for that. It can make us more unpredictable if we don’t.”
Liverpool have sold a prized asset midway through a highly promising season but Klopp denies taking a risk. “My job is always a risk but I could not decide differently, so no,” he said.
Anfield officials are trying to bring forward Naby Keita’s £55m summer move from Red Bull Leipzig and Klopp insists the Coutinho money will be reinvested in his squad. But he was non-committal on whether the Brazilian would be replaced in this window.
Klopp, who has made no attempt to sign Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal this month, said: “We will get all the money. Always since I’m here we can have all the monies from transfers and more if needed. So far we got all the players we wanted to have. Now one has left and it’s not too cool but it’s not a real problem at all … We will bring in other players. If we do it in this window, I don’t know.”