Liverpool has a very complicated decision to make about the talented midfielder. Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho is not indispensable. Philippe Coutinho isn’t even Liverpool’s best player.

Yes, he is very good. Yes, he can pick the most spectacular of goals seemingly from out of nowhere. But he’s the type of creative/attacking presence that’s more of a luxury to have for a manager like Jürgen Klopp. And—sorry if this offends—he cannot be relied upon to show up every week, both literally and figuratively.

Coutinho’s history is littered with injuries. During the 2010-11 campaign, knee troubles kept him out of 13 matches for Inter Milan. Multiple injuries forced him to miss nine more the following season, then another 10 the season after that. Since the 2013-14 campaign, Coutinho has combined to miss 35 matches through injury across all competitions for Liverpool. He’s only 25 years old. It’s difficult to imagine his injury problems becoming less and less frequent as he ages.

So, why wouldn’t Liverpool sell him for £114 million?

Well on the flip side, Coutinho tallied his best goals and assists record—13 and 7, respectively—since joining Liverpool. More than that—and this is where it begins to get messy—the Reds don’t want to appear weak. They’re dealing with Barcelona, who just sold Neymar to PSG for a king’s ransom. Why wouldn’t they hold out for more, right? Additionally, if reports of the structure of Barcelona’s latest bid—says here that it was for £118 million in total—are true, Liverpool’s anger is a little more warranted. Kind of.

From Sports Illustrated, these add-ons were as follows:

Those included winning the Ballon d’Or, lifting multiple trophies in the same season, securing plenty of Champions League titles and winning both the Ballon d’Or and a plethora of cups during a single campaign.

Let’s break this down point-by-point:

  • As long as Ronaldo or Messi is still playing, Coutinho ain’t winning the Ballon d’Or.
  • Multiple trophies? Surely Real Madrid will have something to say about that.
  • Plenty” of UCL trophies? Please.
  • Both the Ballon d’Or and a plethora of cups in one season, you say? Well then.

In short, those add-ons are utterly ridiculous. Arguably insulting, even. But let’s go back to the tweet:

Guaranteed element of bid only £82 million.

I understand what Kaveh Solhekol is saying here. But when it comes to that much money, I’m always going to scratch my head when the word “only” is involved.

So, why wouldn’t Liverpool sell him for £82 million?

Think of what the Reds could do with some of that money. Invest in an actual center-back pairing, for starters. I know Klopp doesn’t care much for defenders—we covered this (again) after the Watford debacle—but come on. There’s no reason Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren should be the first choice pairing for any club with Champions League aspirations. Just a portion of that £82 million could go a long way towards remedying the situation.

On the flip side, Coutinho is worth what Liverpool deems him to be worth. That’s not for us to decide. We’re free to scoff at the prices we’ve seen this window, but this is where the game is going whether we like it or not. Still, how much more should they be holding out for? An even £100 million before add-ons? More than that? Liverpool doesn’t have to sell, but there are multiple areas in which they must improve.

Plus, look at their attackers* — Adam Lallana**, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané, Daniel Sturridge**, Danny Ings**, Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi. Multiple variations of that front would be difficult for most clubs to keep up with.

*When healthy.

**This mostly applies to these chaps.

So let’s assume Liverpool can keep these bodies healthy. A big ask, yes, but in that situation there’s just so much to offer in terms of attacking depth. On the contrary, they possess so little in defense. Again, for a club with Champions League and Premier League title aspirations, that’s not good enough. What this is turning into between Barcelona and Liverpool is an absurd game of chicken, all in the name of making a statement. Plus the longer this stalls, the more against selling Liverpool is likely to be.

So, why wouldn’t Liverpool sell Philippe Coutinho for what is arguably an overbid—even without the aforementioned add-ons? It’s difficult to say. If it’s an attempt to keep up appearances as a club, that ship seems to have sailed years ago. The owners have made sure of that. If it’s because they feel as though they’ll be left in a lurch without him, you can sort of understand that. But not to sound like a broken record here, Liverpool could stand to strengthen so much. Oh, and they wouldn’t even be selling to a Premier League rival. That’s crucial.

The biggest issue is likely the timing. A Coutinho sale this late on when Liverpool have already failed to secure multiple key targets wouldn’t help matters. Still, action late on isn’t new. Tottenham Hotspur, who have finished third and second respectively the past two seasons, can certainly attest to that. Don’t sell simply for the sake of selling, sure. Make sure you have a plan, of course. But at this point in the window, how could a club like Liverpool not have a plan?

Who knows—perhaps Liverpool can squeeze out just a little more money from Barcelona. Or the Spanish club could simply move on from Coutinho, leaving Liverpool stuck in an uncomfortable position—if that’s not the case already. Right now, the potential pros of a sale outweigh the cons. And holding on to Coutinho now could very well end up being a regrettable decision for the Reds not too far down the road.

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.


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