Steven Gerrard accepts Liverpool will miss “wonderful footballer” Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian formally completed his dream move to Barcelona on Monday.
Liverpool were able to repel a series of offers for Coutinho in August, but the Premier League side allowed the playmaker to make the move to Camp Nou and become Barca’s most expensive signing after the January transfer window opened.
Coutinho reportedly paid around £10 million of his own money to help push through a deal reported to be worth up to £142 million, setting a record for a transfer involving a British club.
And Gerrard, who played with Coutinho towards the end of his own Anfield playing career, believes it will be difficult to replace the 25-year-old, who scored 41 Premier League goals for Liverpool.
“I’m still digesting it as a Liverpool fan,” Gerrard, now an academy coach at the club, told BT Sport.
“I’m not surprised by it. I know Liverpool have done everything they can to keep him and they fought very hard to keep him until the summer.
“But when a kid’s got a dream, a South American, that he wants to play for Barcelona and he thinks this is the only opportunity he’s going to get, then it’s very difficult to stop it.
“There’s no doubt about it, Liverpool will miss him. He’s a wonderful footballer, a great person and to be fair to him he hasn’t downed tools at all. I respect his decision and wish him all the best.”
A very special moment for @Phil_Coutinho!
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 8, 2018
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been linked with players including Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez and Monaco’s France international Thomas Lemar to fill the void left by Coutinho, and Gerrard backed his club to spend the money wisely.
“Liverpool will go on,” Gerrard added. “They’ve got big money for him and I’m sure they’ll replace him with the right people.”