Jamie Carragher's point about the Coutinho transfer is very difficult to argue with
"Nothing will persuade me selling Coutinho now makes sense."
Jamie Carragher can't understand why Liverpool chose to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona this month, rather than wait until the end of the season, and has claimed that "big clubs don’t sell in January."
Coutinho joined the Catalan club last week in a transfer worth £142m, the second-most expensive in the history of football. Liverpool fought extremely hard to keep him last summer, rejecting three bids for the player, who made it known that he wanted to join Barcelona. However, once the summer transfer window closed, Coutinho returned to action and was in excellent form for Liverpool, scoring 12 goals, and registering eight assists, in 19 appearances between September and December.
The Brazilian was still desperate to join Barcelona, but Liverpool had several factors in their favour if they tried to retain him. Coutinho had four years left on his contract at Anfield, he was cup-tied for Barcelona's European games and they didn't need him to win the league, as they're nine points clear at the top of the table.
Barcelona would still be interested in the summer, and Liverpool could argue that he needed to stay for the rest of the season, and help them in the league and the Champions League. However, Liverpool accepted the very generous offer, and Coutinho is now a Barcelona player, but Carragher can't comprehend why his old club let the player go now.
"No matter how much I hear about boyhood dreams; efforts to convince him to stay; and how much family, representatives or even sponsors pushed for it, why this month? The financial reward is vast. So is the risk," Carragher writes in his column for The Telegraph.
"Regardless of how much Coutinho agitated, Liverpool could have stood firm. While some players such as Alexis Sanchez and Virgil Van Dijk lost form after being denied their summer move, Coutinho was the opposite. He has never played better for Liverpool than between September and December this season. I am sure the Brazilian would have recovered from his disappointment for four more months It was more risky to keep him in August than now. No-one knew how he would react on his return to the side. He demonstrated it was in his nature to always give 100 per cent, so why expect different in February? When the move was denied last summer the player and his agent must have expected he would be retained for the year. What changed?"
Carragher's point about Coutinho's excellent form since last summer is undeniably true, and evidence suggests that the midfielder would have continued to play well until the summer, had Liverpool retained him. Coutinho would not have just went on strike if he didn't get his way, as he would have risked losing his place in Brazil's starting line-up at the World Cup.
"I agree the £142 million fee is astronomical," Carragher continues, before saying that the sale of Coutinho in January "unnecessarily jeopardises Liverpool's Champions League place for next season" and if they miss out on Champions League qualification "everyone will point at Coutinho’s sale" as the reason why.
However, the Sky Sports pundit also argues that the current Liverpool squad is better "balanced" than when they lost key players in the past, such as Xabi Alonso in 2009, Fernando Torres in 2011 and Luis Suarez in 2014. Carragher claims they, therefore, don't need to "panic buy" and can wait before making a big signing. He also tipped Adam Lallana to be an adequate replacement in Coutinho's midfield position for the rest of the season.
"(Coutinho) has become an outstanding player, but he is not the best in the Premier League like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Luis Suarez when they made their moves to La Liga. He is behind Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard."
Klopp said in his press conference on Friday, ahead of Liverpool's match against Manchester City, that there was "no other option" but to sell Coutinho this month, and that the club "did everything" to try keep the player at the club.