Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted Friday he had no option but to allow Philippe Coutinho to join Barcelona, refusing to rule out an exit for striker Daniel Sturridge during the January transfer window.
Brazil international Coutinho joined the Spanish giants earlier this week for 160 million euros ($194 million, £142 million) after failing to force through the move during the summer transfer window.
“There was no other option,” said Klopp. “I knew there was a moment when it would come up again in this transfer window and it came up massively.
“It would have been very difficult if we say — and we could have done of course with his contract — ‘you have to stay here’.
“(I asked myself) ‘To use him as a player in the second part of the season, did it make sense? Do I think I can use him and can he help us?’
“It became 100 per cent clear, no chance. He was not ready to do that any more.”
Klopp said Liverpool tried everything to convince Coutinho to stay but had to accept his heart was set on his dream move to Barca.
Asked about reports that Sturridge could leave the club, the Liverpool boss was non-committal.
“That is part of the transfer window so I have nothing to say about it,” he said. “We will see. Until January 31 there are a lot of things that can happen in the transfer window, not only with Daniel.”
Sturridge, who has struggled to pin down a starting berth in the Premier League against strong competition from Coutinho, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, has only just returned to fitness after being out of action since early December,
Liverpool have been looking at the possibility of bringing forward RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita’s already agreed summer transfer to this month to offset the loss of Coutinho.
But this week Leipzig again told Liverpool he would not be arriving before next season.
“There is nothing to say about that,” Klopp said. “He is a player of Leipzig, that’s what I know, and will be here in the summer. I have nothing to say about all the rest.”
Liverpool were handed a boost ahead of Sunday’s visit of Premier League leaders Manchester City with the return to training of top scorer Salah.
The Egypt international, who has scored 23 goals in 29 appearances, has missed the past two matches with a groin problem.
“If nothing happens in this moment, Mo is back, he is training completely normally,” confirmed Klopp.