Barcelona admit defeat as Jurgen Klopp faces challenge of reintegrating Philippe Coutinho
Reds boss will turn his attention to bringing Brazilian back into the fold
Barcelona have finally admitted defeat.
The Catalan giants have belatedly accepted what Liverpool have been telling them all summer: Philippe Coutinho is going nowhere.
Three bids over the course of a month and a ton of pressure exerted on the Brazilian which led to him putting in a transfer request and pleading to be granted a move failed to break the Reds' resolve. Barca will have to spend the proceeds of the £200million sale of Neymar elsewhere.
Sunday's laughable 7pm deadline that Barcelona set Liverpool to agree to an offer they had instantly rejected 48 hours earlier went unanswered by sporting director Michael Edwards.
The Anfield hierarchy had been bewildered by the structure of the proposed deal. The headline figure was £118m, which would have made Coutinho the second most expensive player in history, but an email detailed that just £82m was guaranteed and even that was payable in four installments. The other £36m was in add-ons triggered by Champions League glory and Ballon d'Or triumphs which Liverpool deemed unrealistic.
However, in truth, even if the £118m had been delivered in full in crisp tenners by Ernesto Valverde to Melwood the answer would have been exactly the same.
Fenway Sports Group's statement a week earlier that "no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes" was unequivocal.
No sum of money would have prompted a change of heart.
Jurgen Klopp, Edwards and the owners were in full agreement that it was far too late in the window to recruit an adequate replacement.
Now the challenge facing Klopp is to reintegrate a player who has seriously blotted his copybook with the Kop and created an infuriating sideshow for the manager.
That won't happen before the international break. With Coutinho yet to return to full training at Melwood, there's little prospect of him being involved against either Hoffenheim on Wednesday night or Arsenal on Sunday.
Getting his head right is likely to prove more difficult for the Reds than finding a cure for the back pain which has kept him out since the Audi Cup win over Bayern Munich three weeks ago.
His absence happens to coincide with FSG president Mike Gordon telling him face to face during the pre-season training camp in Germany that he definitely wouldn't be sold.
Having initially indicated that he wouldn't try to force a move, Coutinho's stance changed dramatically as Liverpool stood firm and Barca insisted it was either now or never in terms of his dream switch to the Camp Nou.
Along with the transfer request, he informed the Reds that he didn't want to play for the club again.
Considering that Liverpool were never going to budge, Coutinho was poorly advised by agent Kia Joorabchian.
All he succeeded in doing was angering fans and creating an unwanted distraction for Klopp on the eve of the new season.
The attempts by his camp to engineer his exit reached a new low with unnamed 'family members' telling Sky Sports News that he needed to get away because his relationship with Klopp had broken down.
Apparently, he was upset about being played in different positions and about the number of times he was substituted last season. It was all utter rubbish.
The reality is that Coutinho has played the best football of his career under Klopp.
Having previously scored 17 goals in 112 appearances for the Reds, his record since Klopp took over is 25 goals in 69 games.
Coutinho has the German coach to thank for becoming a regular in the Brazil side. Klopp has eased the responsibility on his shoulders and given him a role which has enabled him to flourish.
"The main thing I love about this manager is that he doesn’t do things for the sake of it. He explains everything, give us an understanding of what and why. It creates an enjoyment. He will be a success here, 100%," Coutinho said in January after penning a new five-year contract worth £150,000 per week which, crucially, contains no release clause.
As for being subbed repeatedly, Coutinho was brought off 19 times in 29 Premier League starts last term - 64% of the time - as Klopp sought to give him a breather largely when games were already won.
In comparison, Juan Mata (95%), Willian (87%), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (73%) and Eden Hazard (69%) all found themselves withdrawn in top-flight matches to a greater extent.
For all the talk of Coutinho potentially going on strike, that hasn't happened. He has still been turning up at Melwood for treatment sessions.
Liverpool believe that he will accept his fate, knuckle down and commit himself fully to the cause
With the World Cup finals next summer, he has to be performing at the top level in order to lead the charge for his nation.
Coutinho has plenty of making up to do. Four years ago Luis Suarez found himself in a similar position after being denied the move he demanded.
The Uruguayan striker repaid those he had let down with a season of blistering quality. Klopp can only hope Coutinho responds in similar fashion.