For starters, there are 142,000,000 obvious reasons, although if a player wants out badly enough, there has to be some kind of compromise somewhere along the way. After a while, it becomes counterproductive to keep an unhappy player. From Day One, Jürgen Klopp has said he doesn’t want players who don’t want to be at Liverpool; just as he said the same at his previous clubs. You’re either all in, or you can go … if the price is right, and if you can’t convince them to change their mind.
Kevin Keegan, Graeme Souness and Ian Rush wanted to test themselves abroad between 1977 and 1987, and were allowed to do so, at a time when Liverpool were winning trophies and logically, it could be argued, needed to retain them to continue winning trophies. The fees were acceptable to Liverpool back then, the players got their wish, and everyone moved on, usually successfully. I don’t see how that makes Liverpool a “selling club” now, but not back then? (Did Manchester United selling Ronaldo make them a selling club?) The food chain, and footballers’ ambitions, continue to regulate the market. Liverpool are a big fish. Barcelona are perhaps the biggest. We all knew this; it’s how we got Virgil van Dijk from a smaller fish. It’s how it works. And five years from an import seems a fair contribution to any club.
I don’t necessarily think even a fee rising to £142m is enough to prise a key player away at a vital stage of the season, but if it buys a world-class goalkeeper and another outstanding attacker (and maybe another midfielder), then that’s progress (if those players settle as expected). But is a £142m asset striking his way through January much use anyway? If he went on strike back in August, perhaps it was forgiven. If he’s on strike again now, that might be a blow too far; too much disrespect to the club and his teammates. And this season, Liverpool have an excellent record without Coutinho, so it’s not like losing the all-important Luis Suarez – although it doesn’t help the Reds’ chances in the Champions League on paper, unless new buys are free to play it (like van Dijk is). And the money must be reinvested.
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