¡Hasta luego Philippe Coutinho!

Philippe Coutinho

For months they laughed at the Catalan media while continually reminding us that Philippe Coutinho had no release clause in his contract. The gullible said he would never be sold in January and those who have faith in the owners desperately tried to convince us that Liverpool was no longer a selling club. Well, who’s laughing now?

While the local media tries to convince us that Jürgen Klopp was the one who called the shots, I thought I’d do the opposite. If anyone believes that the Liverpool manager had any say in the matter, they are deluding themselves. He had no say in it at all. It was down to the owners and the club’s senior management. No manager has a say in a potential cash injection of £105million, especially when those owners are Fenway Sports Group (FSG). End of.

However, Klopp’s not arsed. Of course, he doesn’t want to lose one of his best players and especially mid-season, but he knew Coutinho would most likely be on his way in January, as did anyone with half a brain cell. He also knew that any club couldn’t ignore such money and that no owners, not even Sheikh Mansour, could stop the player from completing his dream move.

‘He has a contract, make him honour it!’ is a statement of complete naivety. A contract is a piece of worthless paper as we have seen time and time again. Oh, it can provide some clarity but the reality is, you can tear it up and wipe your arse on it whenever you want.

In January 2017, upon signing a new contract, Coutinho said: “I signed this new contract to stay here for a few more years because it’s a great honour for me.” At the time, a certain breed of fan gushed whereas I read it and thought: ‘You’re chatting shit, mate’.

Some fans see player’s signing new contracts as complete proof that they are committed to the club and that they will never leave. I see them securing pay rises and occasionally tying up loose ends e.g. escape clauses. When Luis Suarez signed that contract following Arsenal’s attempts to sign him, the first thing I said was: ‘That’s his exit sorted’. I was obviously slaughtered by people who think they know best but once again, they were left looking stupid, just like they have been this time when they insisted Coutinho was going nowhere. A player signing a contract is a player looking out for himself, not the club and certainly not the great unwashed i.e. you and I.

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When the summer transfer window closed, Coutinho didn’t look unhappy at all. He looked like and played like a man who knew he was going to get his transfer. Although I’m no ITK, I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself with such a tag, it was clear to me that he was too happy for a player who had been denied his dream move. He was obviously told in the summer: ‘Give us a few more months and you’ll get your move’.

What amazes me is how this record-breaking deal was concluded without any transfer talks. We were told repeatedly by the local media and even from such fine men as Guillem Balagué that there were no talks. Incredible. This will make future deals so much easier if we don’t need to negotiate them 😉

The naive believed such claims. Those of us who understand that money does the talking knew it was just a case of when and not if, and the minute they splashed the cash on Virgil van Dijk, we knew it was imminent. It’s just how FSG roll.

But I’m glad it’s happening now. Of course, I would rather have seen a replacement brought in first but I have every faith that progress has been made on that front. There’s no way that this deal would have been signed off during the first week of January if the club hadn’t worked out what was happening next, be the conclusion of that incoming transaction happening in January or the summer. They could have held off until later in the month but they didn’t. It will make sense later, of that I am sure.

You would hope we would see a fresh face brought in this month but I noticed a cautionary tweet from James Pearce when he said: “What we’ve seen from Klopp so far shows that if he can’t get exactly who he wants this month then he will wait for the summer.”

In my opinion, this translates to Monaco wanting too much money for Thomas Lemar during the current round of negotiations. The Reds will continue to work on that while trying to convince Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff to part with Naby Keïta this month. That could prove difficult but with the German outfit no longer in the Champions League and with Liverpool about to bank £105m from Barcelona, Liverpool could be exploited further. I don’t believe the rumours that claim we are close to signing Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez and if you think we’re trying to re-sign Luis Suarez, you really need to evaluate your time online.

So why am I glad this Coutinho deal is happening now? Because I’m sick of hearing about it. It’s disruptive. It also creates a problem for the manager with regards team selection. He would have had to come up with more excuses as to why he wasn’t playing while the January transfer window was open. He obviously couldn’t risk using him during negotiations. Who wants to keep a player who doesn’t want to be here? What do you think his daily conversations with pal Roberto Firmino will have been about? A player that also has aspirations of moving to Spain. Next up will be the Salah to Spain speculation but I actually expect we will see Firmino chatter too. Get used to it because it’s coming.

I used to run this website from the North of England and when I was presented with the opportunity of updating it from Spain instead, I was off. It was a no-brainer. Same job, better weather, a better standard of living, financial sense and more opportunities for my children. The point I’m trying to make is that many people, be they rich and famous or just a peasant like myself, will always take a more attractive offer, especially when you have a family to think about. I didn’t have anyone or anything to stay loyal to. Footballers don’t care about the clubs they play for unless they’re from the area or unless they were absolutely die-hard fans as a kid and even then they often still find themselves having to move on. Loyalty in football is rare. Your Fowlers, your Gerrards, your Carraghers are so very, very rare and special. How do you unearth more of them? If only it was that simple, huh?

You can’t blame players such as Suarez and Coutinho for wanting to move to Spain, especially to a club as glamorous as Barcelona. You’re not right in the head if you think they want to spend their careers in Liverpool opposed to Barcelona. If Coutinho had been at Manchester City he’d still be undergoing that medical today. It’s just their culture and how many players, even English players, would turn down Barcelona given chance? You’re just not thinking straight.

As for the owners, I’m afraid I’m going to let the side down here and say they should be excused from criticism in relation to this particular deal. I have no time for them as you know but no owners could have prevented this deal from happening. It was his dream move. It was silly money. The club managed to hold on to him in the summer and yes we and they would rather have kept him until the season had ended but sometimes you have to take the money and run. This is Moneyball. A staggering profit on a player that was bought young for next to nothing. Never mind Coutinho, this was also a dream for FSG. It makes sense to the suits but it will never make sense to the fans.

While we’re waiting for confirmation that the deal has gone through, spare a thought for Liverpool FC’s social media savvy CEO Peter Moore. The public face of LFC, brought in to fly the flag and to feed us good news, hasn’t been spotted on Twitter for almost 2 weeks. I don’t blame him for giving it a swerve while the fans are currently looking for someone to vent at. Linda chimed in on New Year’s Day but she must have forgotten we were playing Everton on Friday as she’s been AWOL for a week. Rest assured she’ll be back with her clean sheet reports when the opportunity presents itself (if you don’t do Twitter, that will be well over your head).

Anyway, I wish Philippe Coutinho the very best of luck at Barcelona. The boy has fulfilled his dream and has left Liverpool with a hefty profit. The only thing that should matter now is how the manager spends it.

Our supporters should care more about the players who want to play for Liverpool Football Club than those that don’t. That’s why you’ll always see me championing the likes of Danny Ings over Daniel Sturridge. If a player even suggests he is not committed, let him go. Get what you can for him and move on as quickly as possible. Let’s just be grateful that Anfield’s laptop guru brokered a decent deal for us.

But you know what guys, there’s more to life than wasting your time and emotions on millionaire footballers. Coutinho is a decent player and a good egg but he’s gone: he’s history. I’ve seen better players leave and the club still exists.

I don’t trust the owners but I do trust the manager. We’ll be fine.

Duncan Oldham
KopTalk Editor

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