Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has said that he respects Philippe Coutinho’s decision to leave the club, but is “still digesting” the loss of the Reds talisman.
The Brazil international completed his record-breaking move to Barcelona on Monday — sealing a deal that looked on the cards ever since Liverpool rejected repeated bids from the Spanish giants in August.
The transfer fee was not confirmed publicly, but ESPN FC sources and multiple reports said it would reach £142 million (€160m), with Liverpool receiving £105m (€120m) up front and the rest in performance-related add-ons.
“I’m still digesting it as a Liverpool fan,” Gerrard 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.
“Liverpool will go on. They’ve got big money for him and I’m sure they’ll replace him with the right people.”
Coutinho, meanwhile, took to Instagram to thank Liverpool fans for their support during his five seasons at the club.
Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool , me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends. On the pitch and off the pitch, we have experienced the beauty of this club and its fans. In turn, I hope I have delivered memories and moments that have brought happiness to the Liverpool supporters. Moving to Liverpool, I knew the club’s greatness and history but what I did learn during my time was the unique heart and soul of the place. It has its own personality and character. I leave Liverpool because Barcelona is a dream for me. Liverpool was a dream that I was fortunate enough to realise and I have given five years of my life to it. A career on the pitch only lasts for so long and to play for Barcelona as well as Liverpool is something I want to experience and enjoy while I am blessed enough to be able to do so. I hope the supporters understand that choosing to experience something new is not about diminishing their importance to me or the club’s importance. Nothing will ever diminish that in my heart. I wish Jürgen and the team nothing but joy and success for the rest of this season and beyond. This is an amazing team and they are getting better and better all the time. There are too many people I want to thank, but I cannot name everyone individually. To all the amazing club staff who have been part of my life in Liverpool – I will miss you. To the owners, whom have tried so hard to bring success, and to the football recruitment staff for showing faith in me to bring me here and rewarding me during that journey, and to my incredible teammates, past and present, who have helped me grow and improve as a player and a person, I would like to say thank you to you all. Anything I have achieved here would not have been possible without you. And finally, to the most important people of Liverpool – the Liverpool supporters. I can never thank you enough for what you have given me during this time and no matter where I go in the world, for the rest of my life, I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart. You, the club and the city will always be a part of me. You’ll Never Walk Alone. Philippe.
“Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool , me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends,” the message read.
“On the pitch and off the pitch, we have experienced the beauty of this club and its fans. In turn, I hope I have delivered memories and moments that have brought happiness to the Liverpool supporters.”
Coutinho underwent his medical on Monday morning, and Barcelona have confirmed in a statement that the midfielder “has an injury to his right thigh and he is expected to be out for around three weeks.”
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