Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admits Philippe Coutinho was ‘desperate’ to join Barcelona and wanted the move “since July”.
Coutinho is set to become a Barca player after a deal was finally agreed with Liverpool on Saturday, and Klopp paid tribute to the attacker’s ‘professionalism’ for his performances in the first half of the season, despite speculation about his future.
“It is with great reluctance that we – as a team and club – prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho,” began the German in a statement on the Reds’ official website.
“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known.
“Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
“Despite that, 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.
“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.
“Philippe has made a fantastic contribution to this club over his five years of service and as disappointed as we are he doesn’t want to extend that, the relationship we have for him means with a heavy heart we wish him well.
“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 and that level of professionalism reflects positively on him.
“Of course, it is totally understandable that supporters will be disappointed; this is always the case when you have to say goodbye to someone special.
“But, as hard as it is sometimes to accept, it is part of life and part of football – individuals have their own dreams and their own goals and objectives in life.
“Players will come and players will go, that is football, but as a club we are big enough and strong enough to continue with our aggressive progression on the pitch, even when we lose an important player.
“We have never been in a better position in recent times, as a club, to react in the right way. We will use our size and strength to absorb moments like this and still move forward.
“I have been here long enough now to know in the history of Liverpool, key players have left before – but the club always goes on.
“You cannot transfer the heart and soul of Liverpool Football Club, although I am sure there are many clubs who would like to buy it.
“I have so much belief in the talent we have here already and even more faith, together with our owners, that we will make continued investment into the playing squad, which will allow more growth and more improvement.
“So as we bid farewell to Philippe, we continue on our path of progress and development as we work towards our common goal of bringing trophies back to Anfield.”