Once again Liverpool FC and Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have sold one of their stars as midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been sold to Barcelona for a reported €120m with another €40 in potential add-ons.
That transfer makes the 25-year-old Coutinho, for the moment, the second-most expensive player in world football behind Neymar.
FSG rejected three offers from Barcelona in the summer, the highest which was more than the one they accepted in January, so to sell half-way through the season has baffled more than a few Liverpool fans.
But Jurgen Klopp insisted that Liverpool had to sell, because Coutinho did not want to play for Liverpool anymore, telling the Liverpool websute:
‘It is with great reluctance that we — as a team and club — prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho.
‘It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known. Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
‘Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.
‘I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of LFC was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100 per cent certain his future — and that of his family — belongs at Barcelona. It is his dream and I am now convinced there is nothing left at our disposal to change his mind.’
Philippe has made a fantastic contribution to this club over his five years of service and as disappointed as we are he doesn’t want to extend that, the relationship we have for him means, with a heavy heart, we wish him well.
‘The player remained dedicated and committed to helping us win matches, producing good performances and training hard each day at Melwood after the summer window had closed, despite failing to convince us to allow him to leave during that period, and that level of professionalism reflects positively on him.
‘Of course, it is totally understandable that supporters will be disappointed; this is always the case when you have to say goodbye to someone special. But, as hard as it is sometimes to accept, it is part of life and part of football — individuals have their own dreams and their own goals and objectives in life.
Liverpool have already splashed come of the Coutinho cash, following the £75m purchase of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.