John Aldridge: I sympathise with Philippe Coutinho, but Liverpool have to stand firm
Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge has urged the club’s board to stand firm and refuse to sell midfielder Philippe Coutinho, even if the player has made it clear that he wants to join Barcelona.
Coutinho handed in a transfer request last Friday after Liverpool rejected a second Barcelona bid believed to be worth around €100m and while Aldridge sympathises with the Brazilian midfielder’s desire to leave, he argues the priorities of his current employers have to be prioritized ahead of his own ambition.
“I predicted a few weeks back that Liverpool would struggle to hang on to Philippe Coutinho once Barcelona came calling for him and, sadly, that scenario has now come to pass,” states Aldridge.
“This is a nightmare for Liverpool, with the timing of his transfer request could not have been worse, coming 24 hours before the start of the new season and we just don’t know where this story is going now.
“I would urge the Liverpool owners to stand firm, refuse to sell Coutinho to Barcelona for any price and try and ride out the storm until the transfer window shuts.
“That won’t be easy to do because the player has clearly decided he wants to go and while I can understand the appeal of a move to Barcelona and sympathise with his desire to make it happen, his departure would leave Liverpool in a desperate position.
“Even if they get £100m for Coutinho, getting players in with less than three weeks of the transfer window to go will be difficult and maybe even impossible.
“With all that money coming in, clubs will bump their prices up for any player Liverpool go far and you could see a scenario where Klopp ends up signing third and fourth choice players just to get some bodies into his squad.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool great Phil Thompson believes the Anfield board will have a much better chance of hanging on to Coutinho if they plot a route past Hoffenheim and secure a place in the Champions League group stages.
“I think the outcome of the play-off could have a knock-on to Coutinho; if things go pear-shaped then has a pretty good excuse to say, ‘Let me go, I want to play in the Champions League’, so it is even more important in that respect,” Thompson told Sky Sports.
“If we get through to the group stages then I think the owners - because they put everything at Coutinho’s disposal before, giving him a five-year deal and the pay increase that he and his agent asked for - have strong enough grounds to stand firm.
“The owners know it’s Barcelona but to them it’s a contract signed and until they’ve got a player who can fill his boots then they have no interest in selling, especially after the way the club was embarrassed with the timing of the transfer request.”