It was on the eve of the Liverpool’s 2017/18 season opener when Philippe Coutinho made his desire to leave Anfield public by handing in a transfer request in order to fulfill his dream of playing for one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs, FC Barcelona.
The speculation linking Coutinho with the Catalan giants had been going on for years, every summer Liverpool fans held their breath as the little magician took his game up a level at Anfield. Every summer could have been his last before he finally got his dream move.
Transfer requests and reported injuries were just a few of the tactics the Brazilian and his entourage used in order to secure a move away from Merseyside.
The deal would finally be done in Janaury 2018. Liverpool sold their star man for £140 million.
Fast forward 18 months later and the Brazilian’s move to Camp Nou has been nothing short of a disaster.
Klopp and his side have reached new levels since the departure of the former Anfield favorite, reaching back-to-back Champions League finals and taking their number of triumphs in Europe’s most prestige competition to six.
With Barcelona seemingly looking to cut their losses and offload the Brazilian it has come as no surprise the amount of speculation linking the 27-year -old with a return to Liverpool.
Let’s take a further look at wether or not an Anfield reunion could be on the cards during this transfer window.
While Coutinho would relish the opportunity of a reunion, I would find it increasingly difficult to see Liverpool or Klopp bringing him back to Anfield. This Liverpool team is completely different to the one he swapped for Barcelona 18 months ago.
The statement that Klopp and his staff showed when they had the final decision on the Coutinho transfer was that no individual, no matter how talented they are, is bigger than the club.
If Coutinho was to return it would damage the dynamics within the squad, something that Klopp has worked so hard on fine tuning to his liking throughout his reign.
Think of somebody like Gini Wijnaldum. You’ve just helped the club get to back-to-back European Cup finals and all of sudden you find your self starting on the bench next season- it will cause unrest and it would unsettle players.
I do understand the argument that having competition for places is never a bad thing. However, in these circumstances, bridges have been burned and there is no going back and offering second chances on Liverpool’s side.
Klopp and his staff value the harmony and the characters in the dressing and I don’t think they would be prepared to risk that in the slightest.
On the pitch, there is no doubting how talented the little magician was during his time at Anfield, he possessed the ability to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and change it in a instance with a moment of magic.
His goal at Old Trafford in the Europa League is a prime example, the limbs in the away end that night are talked about as one of the very best in recent years.
He regularly produced those moments of sheer joy, the reasons we watch football.
There is no doubting that during his final season, Coutinho reached the bracket of ‘world class’. The football he played in his final months at Anfield was incredible, operating in a deeper midfield role, behind the front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Some of the football was scintillating.
It’s worth noting that Liverpool were massively unbalanced before they sold Coutinho and had been for years previous. The 2013/14 title race had highlighted that Liverpool conceded an unhealthy amount of goals as they fell short in securing their first Premier League, a title challenge that was assembled largely thanks to the forward line.
Liverpool’s defensive misfortunes has been something that followed Klopp all through his tenure at Anfield and Coutinho was partly to thank for that, solving the Reds’ Achilles heel.
Selling Coutinho allowed Klopp to evaluate the team he had built, he had now been given a huge amount of cash to really take his side to the next level of challenging for the biggest honours.
Ultimately, Liverpool have been the winners from selling Coutinho and have profited in the best way possible after being crowned Champions League winners in Madrid. A triumph that may not have happened had Coutinho still been at Liverpool.