On Friday 4th August 2017 Neymar was bought out of his contract, and was confirmed as a PSG player, and finally on Monday 8th January 2018 Barcelona landed their replacement in Philippe Coutinho.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 8, 2018
Throughout the summer Liverpools resolve was tried and tested. Regardless of the media speculation, the players desire to plat the Nou Camp, and with the large sums of money being offered, Liverpool maintained their stance that the player was not for sale.
Five months, and a reported £142million, later and Barcelona have finally got their man.
It is important to mention that is has been reported that Coutinho has contributed anywhere between £9-£11million of the transfer fee from his own pocket to ensure the deal went through successfully. This wasn’t a transfer which was motivated by greed, this was a transfer that was motivated simply by a desire to play for one of the greatest teams in the world. To play in front of 90,000 fans, to play alongside Messi, Iniesta, Suarez, and progress as a player. Where his transfer fee may have been extortionate, his motivations were based purely on the game, which is to be admired.
Where some supporters will be bitter and the move, which is partially acceptable because of the timing, they can’t criticise the players motivations.
In light of Coutinho’s Instagram post and his sincere message to Liverpool fans I’d just like to take this opportunity to say an anterior cruciate ligament injury to bestow him would be quite welcome
— James (@arghappy) January 8, 2018
They also cannot question his commitment to the cause for the last five months, because if anything, Coutinhos performances have excelled. His contribution to play has been outstanding, his goals have been superb, and he has been a perfect example of professionalism. He should be remembered more for this:
Coutinho goal vs Man City 😍 pic.twitter.com/QG86OqPYYO
— Live_Goal (@LiveGoal13) January 8, 2018
In Iraq .. some one … The first one who burned coutinho’s shirt ,
The new traitor pic.twitter.com/A4YD2t8rx4
— omarqahtan (@omarfowler2006) January 6, 2018
If Real Madrid can poach Ronaldo from United, at his very peak, then any player can become a target.
So where do Liverpool go from here?
Losing a key player is never ideal pre-season, but mid season this could be a huge problem. The writing may already have been on the wall when they spent £75mil on Van Dijk before the close of the year, but a question has to be asked about why the deal was so public?
Coutinho is injured for at least three weeks, why wasn’t a deal agreed in principle behind closed doors, so that Liverpool had time to secure replacements?
In many ways it’s fortunate that the Van Dijk deal was already secured, if Southampton were aware that Liverpool had £142mil available that £75mil may have increased sharply.
Now Liverpool are a club with money, in much the same way Barca were a club with money when Neymar was sold. If they want Mahrez, his value has just increased. If they want Lemar, his value has just increased. Thinking of signing Keita early, it’s not going to come cheap. The more money you receive, is just more money you’re going to need to spend.
The club will be under pressure to buy, the fans will want a replacement. They may be holding 4th spot as it currently stands, but the gap is only 3 points, and the teams behind them will be smelling blood at the sale of Coutinho.
They will sense the potential vulnerability, and be waiting to prey on it.
With Emre Can agreeing a deal this week in principle to join Juventus, this summer, which is yet another blow. Then failure to secure Champions League football becomes an absolute disaster for the club, with Real Madrid rumoured to be circling Salah and Mane, it could cast a lot of doubt over the club and the owners sense of direction.
How Liverpool decide to act in January will be crucial, because from here is where their season will be judged. When the acquisition of Van Dijk went through there was cause for optimism going into the back end of this season, with hopes for the start of the next campaign, but right now a cloud hangs over Anfield.
Van Dijk was one step forward but Coutinho could turn out to be more than two steps back.