Football

Klopp: We did everything we could to keep Coutinho at Liverpool

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp admitted that Barcelona-bound Philippe Coutinho was "desperate" to move to the La Liga giants and had wanted to leave for Catalonia since Barca bid for the Brazilian ace in July.

Coutinho will finally make his "dream" move after being denied in the summer, with the two clubs agreeing a reported 160 million-euro (S$255.3m) deal for a player that Liverpool signed in 2013 from Inter Milan for just £8.5m (S$15.3m).

"It's no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known," Klopp told the Liverpool website.

"Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen."

Klopp said that he had fought to keep Coutinho on Merseyside last summer, when Liverpool reportedly turned down a £138m deadline-day bid from Barca, but the lure of the runaway La Liga leaders was too much for the attacker to resist.

"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," added Klopp.

"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."

PROFESSIONAL

Klopp also hailed Coutinho's "professionalism" after being denied the transfer to Spain in July and thanked him for his five years of service to the English Premier League club.

Coutinho came to Liverpool following a poor five years as an Inter player that included an initial two-year loan spell at hometown team Vasco da Gama and then a year at Barcelona-based club Espanyol after failing to impress in Italy.

He flourished under Klopp following the German's arrival from Borussia Dortmund in 2015.

While he didn't win any trophies in his time at Liverpool, he made enough of a splash to attract the interest of the world's biggest clubs.

Klopp said: "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.

"That level of professionalism reflects positively on him."

Meanwhile, Liverpool will offer supporters who bought shirts bearing Coutinho's name a £50 voucher to help offset the impact of the Brazilian's move. - AFP

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