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Klopp: Liverpool had no option but to sell Coutinho

The sale surprised many on Merseyside, particularly after Liverpool fought so hard to keep Philippe Coutinho in August.

FILE: Barcelona's new Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho shows his new jersey before holding a press conference in Barcelona on 8 January 2018. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Liverpool fought “until the last second” to convince Philippe Coutinho to stay at Anfield but ultimately had no other option than sell him to Barcelona, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday.

After months of speculation, the 25-year-old Brazilian joined the Spanish club for £140 million ($190 million) in what he described as his “dream move”.

The sale surprised many on Merseyside, particularly after Liverpool fought so hard to keep Coutinho in August when the owners made clear that the Reds should no longer be seen as “a selling club”.

Yet that strident tone changed ahead of the latest transfer window and, in his first public comment since Coutinho’s sale, Klopp made clear that Liverpool felt they had no choice but to negotiate the move.

“There was no other option,” said Klopp at a news conference ahead of the Premier League game against Manchester City on Sunday.

”If someone is angry or disappointed it could be the manager but I‘m not. We tried everything to convince Phil to stay here.

”This was his dream. He would only leave Liverpool for one club. The club was fighting until the last second to keep Phil. It would have been difficult to say no and then use him in the second half of the season.

“Phil, what a character, but he still wanted to leave. We have to make the best of it. We still have fantastic players here.”

Klopp stressed that he has lost big-game players previously as a manager and called on everyone to move on from Coutinho’s departure.

“We lost plenty of players at Dortmund. You always have to react. It’s about the atmosphere in the club. If we get a free kick on Sunday and anyone is thinking ‘Phil!’ that wouldn’t be too cool,” he said.

POTENTIAL BUSINESS

Although Liverpool have been linked with several high-profile replacements for Coutinho, Klopp gave little away and straight-batted suggestions they are negotiating to bring in Naby Keita from RB Leipzig ahead of his scheduled arrival in the close season.

Klopp stressed that if the club do any business “we want right before expensive”.

“First of all we have to replace (Coutinho) internally. We have our eyes open in this window but we won’t do crazy things,” he said.

“We don’t need to replace him, we need to step up. We have played fantastic football without Phil. We only have to carry on.”

On Sunday Liverpool get their first opportunity against the Premier League’s runaway leaders City, who beat them 5-0 in the reverse fixture, a game that saw Sadio Mane sent off.

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