Philippe Coutinho has simply never been the same since he left Liverpool in 2018.
While the Brazilian might never have won the silverware that he so badly craved at Anfield, his electrifying performances and stunning goals made him a fans’ favourite on Merseyside.
It speaks volumes about how much Coutinho had risen at Liverpool that just a few weeks before his Barcelona exit, he was scoring a Champions League hat-trick while wearing the captain’s armband.
Coutinho’s decline at Barcelona
But Coutinho’s career has only been on a downward spiral since his £142 million move to Camp Nou, which remains the third-most expensive transfer in history behind Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
While the 29-year-old enjoyed a solid first half-season at the club with 10 goals in 22 games, the wheels have fallen off ever since an awful sophomore campaign that saw the fans turn on him.
What followed was a loan to Bayern Munich that may have reaped a historic treble, but still did very little to rehabilitate Coutinho’s stock and value as the Bavarians rejected a permanent move.
Coutinho could return to the Premier League
Since then, Coutinho has inhabited a state of limbo in Catalonia with a mixture of serious injury and inconsistent form convincing many that there is no longer any chance of him coming good for Barca.
As such, the rumour mill couldn’t be any livelier in the January transfer window with reports abound that Coutinho could be making a Premier League return with multiple clubs linked to his name.
The BBC reported on Wednesday that Aston Villa were one of several English clubs monitoring Coutinho’s situation with Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United also linked.
Klopp’s 2017 advice to Coutinho
Now, that’s all well and good, but even in a world where Coutinho becomes a club legend for, say, Villa, you still can’t help wondering whether he would have been better off staying at Liverpool.
While, yes, you can never change the past, what makes that hypothetical quandary so damning is that Jurgen Klopp seemed to see the entire situation happening a mile off – and with startling accuracy.
That’s because, according to talkSPORT, one of Klopp’s tactics to keep Coutinho was the argument that he would be leaving potentially legendary status for getting lost in the shuffle elsewhere.
In May 2017, the Liverpool boss is quoted as advising the Brazilian: “Stay here and they will end up building a statue in your honour.
“Go somewhere else, to Barcelona, to Bayern Munich, to Real Madrid, and you will be just another player. Here you can be something more.”
Klopp’s advice looks painful now
Although that might well have contributed to Coutinho remaining at Liverpool over the summer of 2017, it certainly didn’t have its desired effect in full with the player leaving just a few months later.
And boy does it make for damning reading almost half a decade on because it’s downright eerie that Klopp literally name-drops Barcelona and Bayern, which Coutinho went on to play for after leaving.
Plus, the overarching message that Coutinho will be more loved and appreciated for staying at Liverpool is so, so true because he’s never been as loved in Spain as he was on Merseyside.
We don’t think for a second that Klopp will have taken any pleasure in how Coutinho’s career has panned out since 2017, but he might well feel secure in the fact that he was absolutely spot on…