It was just a matter of time. Philippe Coutinho is off to Barcelona. As a Liverpool fan, it was the same song with different words. The similarities between the Little Magician’s impending departure and Luis Suarez’s weren’t lost on us. But being back in Europe gave us a collective hope that this time was different. Alas, it is wasn’t. His tenure in Liverpool red is over.
Those in the Liverpool family say the report is bunk. Coutinho is not for sale. Barcelona should save their energy and pursue other avenues. Yet, they said the same thing about Suarez. The circumstances around the striker’s wanting out were much different (biting, racism accusations, etc.), but he still got his way out. Barca made the deal too sweet for Liverpool to say no.
Until now, it seemed as if Barcelona was chasing Coutinho in a purely one-way manner. He was a target of theirs but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Now that the Brazilian has put in a transfer request, we have gone from the noble fighters to the blockers of a dream. It can turn that quickly.
The £81.6m (€90m) fee is roughly a third of the Neymar money Barcelona has burning a hole in their pocket. That sum is almost ten times the amount Liverpool paid Inter Milan in 2013. It’s good business. Business is a dirty word to a football fan though. We want the best at any expense and another’s money isn’t as good as ours.
Under Klopp, Liverpool wants to shed the image that they are a selling club. But that just isn’t the case. At least when a Barcelona or Real Madrid come calling. Though it pains my soul, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs aren’t callers Liverpool would hang up on either.
I, like many others, believed that a return to the Champions League would be at least a temporary tonic for ownership. A display that Klopp’s tactics, man management, and transfer policy could produce results would give them enough of a reason to ward off suitors of their best players.
But selling Coutinho is good business. I just wish that the club didn’t back themselves into another corner before realizing that. There is less than a week to go before the start of the season. The summer transfer window will close at the end of the month. Bringing in an adequate replacement at this juncture isn’t going to happen, quite the same way they gave themselves no time to find goals when El Pistolero left for the Camp Nou.
This is a problem facing clubs all over the world. They lack a knowledge of their place in their sport’s hierarchy. I am not saying that things can change over time. Ask a Golden State Warriors fan how the late 90’s and mid-00’s were for them? But failing to be self-identifying of one’s current status is damning.
On the pitch, Liverpool proved last season that they can go toe to toe with anyone in the Premier League. In fact, the bigger the game the better they played. But off of it, at this moment, Liverpool is not a power broker and barring a change in philosophy from their American owners, they won’t be for the foreseeable future.
I am extremely sad to see Philippe Coutinho leave Liverpool. He has been one of my favorite, if not my top favorite, players at the club over his four seasons at Anfield. But I recognize what Liverpool is in today’s footballing landscape. Financially they are on the level of the teams they have been doing business with. They should be ecstatic to work out a deal with Roma and not surprised to be rebuffed by Red Bull Leipzig. The Little Magician era in Liverpool is Countinhover.