Liverpool had 'no option' but to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona - Klopp
LIVERPOOL -- Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool had "no other option" but to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona after it became clear there was "no chance" the Brazilian could play for the Reds in the second half of the season.
Coutinho left Liverpool for the Nou Camp earlier this month in a £142 million deal (after add-ons) that makes him the second-most expensive footballer of all time.
Liverpool had resisted three offers from Barcelona in the summer, with the 25-year-old eventually returning to the squad after missing the entire month of August as he attempted to push through a move to Spain.
When asked at his pre-Manchester City news conference on Friday why Liverpool sold Coutinho, Klopp replied: "Because there was no other option. That's, I would say, a pretty easy answer.
"If there's somebody, maybe, who should be angry or massively disappointed -- or whatever in this case -- then it could be the manager of the club, but I'm not. Because I know we tried absolutely everything. The club tried everything to convince Phil to stay here and carry on going the way together with us.
"It was his dream and it's the truth when I say he left Liverpool only for one club -- and it was Barcelona. That was the moment when we really had to accept that. The club was fighting until the last second, if you want, and really tried everything. That's the case.
"I knew when it will come up again in this transfer window. It came up massively that it would be very difficult if we say: 'Here's your contract, you have to stay here' and to use him as a player in the second part of the season. That's the decision I have to make -- does it make sense? Do I think I can use him still and help us?
"To be honest, it was 100 percent clear [there was] no chance. He was not ready to do that anymore.
"He did fantastic in the first part of the season after the thing we had to deal with in the summer. The team did really brilliant with that -- how the whole club did, Anfield itself. But it was clear that's over now and we cannot do anymore. We made that decision."
Klopp has vast experience of losing key players during his managerial career, having seen the likes of Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Nuri Sahin leave Borussia Dortmund during his seven years in charge there.
"It's normal in this business -- you lose players, you buy players, you bring players through," he added. "You always need to react. It's all about the atmosphere in the club. On Sunday, for example, if there's a free kick in the stadium from 18 or 20 yards and everyone is thinking: 'ah, Phil'. That would be not too cool. It's how it always is with the past -- use it, but don't suffer because of it."
In terms of replacing Coutinho, Klopp admits Liverpool will explore the transfer market for potential new signings, but will not be rushed into reinvesting the £142m. A source has told ESPN FC that Liverpool are in dialogue with RB Leipzig about the possibility of bringing forward Naby Keita's move to Merseyside this month.
"If we do something then it needs to be the right decision. We don't have to replace him, we have to step up," Klopp said.
"We will have 11 players and we played fantastic football with Phil. I don't want to sound disrespectful because I really liked him. He was five years here and was here since I came in. You miss a person and I'm sure he's missing us -- maybe he doesn't realise in the moment when everything is new there!
"And replacements, first of all, we have to replace him internally, but we go through with open eyes in this transfer window, as you can imagine. But we will not make crazy things. That's how it is. 'Right' before 'expensive'."
On Keita, the Liverpool manager continued: "There's nothing to say about it. When we had this conversation around Phil Coutinho, I said the same -- nothing to say -- and I won't change that. He is a player of Leipzig, that's what I know and will be here in the summer, that's what I know as well. All the rest, nothing to say about it."
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah will be fit for Liverpool's encounter with Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday after missing the last two matches with a groin injury. Alberto Moreno (ankle) and Daniel Sturridge (muscular) are back in full training, while Jordan Henderson continues with his recovery from a hamstring issue.
"If nothing happens in this moment, Mo is back, he is training completely normally," Klopp concluded. "[Sturridge] is back in training, healthy and on the way to be fit again. Hendo is in this moment out on the pitch and is training. It looks good -- he wears football boots, that is always a good sign. He was not in team training so far.
"Alberto Moreno was in team training yesterday, the first full session. He is a little bit early but after that he should be ready. He needs time for proper training of course.
"The boys really do a lot in their rehab situation and, if we have time, we bring them a little bit later into team training so that they can do a little bit more specific physical work. But still they need time to adapt to the intensity of a football game. It looks really good, cool."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.