Liverpool tried to take Philippe Coutinho back on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season.
Liverpool wanted Coutinho on loan
We start with an exclusive from The Mail, who have the inside story of the final hours of the deal that took Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona. The story is stocked with interesting lines but the one we've chosen is that Liverpool tried to take Coutinho back on loan for the rest of the season, arguing that he would be cup-tied for the Champions League. Barca refused the request.
There are a lot of theories floating around that is a terrible time for Coutinho to move, but is it? He gets the rest of the season to play one game a week and adjust to playing with his new team-mates under little pressure. He will also, as Lucas Leiva pointed out in the Mail's piece, be in top condition for the World Cup.
Liverpool tried to take Philippe Coutinho back on loan FeaturedWritten by Eduard Kochoian
Liverpool tried to take Philippe Coutinho back on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season.
Liverpool hold on to end battling Manchester City's unbeaten record
Premier League, Anfield - Liverpool 4 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 9', Firmino 59', Sadio Mané 61', Salah 68') Manchester City 3 (Sané 40', Silva 84', Gündogan 90+1')
Oxlade-Chamberlain: Coutinho loss won't affect Liverpool
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is confident Liverpool are well-equipped for life without Philippe Coutinho, insisting it is "business as usual" at Anfield.
The Brazil playmaker, who contributed 12 goals this season, completed his dream £142million move to Barcelona on Monday to leave a significant hole in Jurgen Klopp's side.
However, Oxlade-Chamberlain, who experienced key personnel like Robin van Persie leave when he was at Arsenal, believes he and the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can help fill the void without too much disruption.
And the first chance to prove that is at home to runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
"I haven't really even thought about Phil leaving," he said.
"You realise it happens but you can't start thinking 'What are we going to do now that Phil is not here?'
"It can't be that at all. It's business as usual.
"When Phil wasn't in the team we still played great football and we have still amazing players who can score goals - the likes of Mo (Salah), Sadio, Roberto.
"The fact is he has gone now and we have to think 'What have we got that is going to get the job done?'.
"I have every faith in the boys that we just move on now. I don't think it should affect us at all.
"When a big player leaves, a big player leaves. You're at a big club like Liverpool, another big player will come in the future.
"I wish Phil all the very best but the only thing I'm concentrating on is Liverpool and winning as many games as we can - starting with Man City on Sunday."
With Liverpool at this moment unlikely to buy a replacement in the January transfer window, Coutinho's departure provides an opening for Oxlade-Chamberlain and others to secure more regular football.
After a testing start to his Anfield career, having arrived on the final day of the August window, the England international is starting to show the sort of form that persuaded Klopp to spend £35m on him.
"Of course it's an opportunity for me, just as it is for all the rest of the boys who want to play there," he added.
"It is our job to keep the wheels moving and momentum going.
"I am the type of person who relishes the chance to stand up and perform under pressure, I have had to do that my whole career.
"I was at a big club previously and being at big one now, you know you are always going to have to perform under pressure."
Oxlade-Chamberlain faced growing criticism in his first few months as he adapted to a new playing style under Klopp.
However, he insists he ignored the doubters as he had total faith in himself and his manager.
"There was a lot of controversy and talk, maybe it's a time when you just want to get your head down and settle in," he said.
"There's a lot of noise around what's happening and that can make things a bit difficult.
"I didn't mind too much people talking because I knew that's what would happen.
"Once you clear that ridge and focus on getting your head down and playing more, I feel that's where I am now."
Barcelona new boy Philippe Coutinho: I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart
New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho has told Liverpool fans he hopes they understand why he left for the Nou Camp in a £142million switch.
The 25-year-old Brazilian's five-year stint at Anfield ended at the weekend when Barca finally struck an agreement with the Reds, making Coutinho the second most-expensive player of all time after they were paid an initial £105m up front.
Liverpool had rejected Barca's bids last summer, despite Coutinho's desire to force through the transfer, but having finally sealed his move in this window the outgoing playmaker has posted a message to Reds supporters on his Instagram account.
"Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool, me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends," he wrote.
"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 Jurgen (Klopp) 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."
Coutinho ended the post by addressing Reds supporters directly, adding: "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."
Barcelona's latest signing was unveiled on Monday but a thigh injury that kept him out of Liverpool's last two games will also delay his debut for his new club.
In another Instagram post that contained multiple images of him in a Barca shirt, Coutinho said: "A Dream Come True thank you Barcelona. I can't wait to start my journey with you!"
Philippe Coutinho's departure to Barcelona demonstrates La Liga's superiority
Philippe Coutinho's transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona has shown La Liga continues to dominate the Premier League for the best talent.
It was half a season. Just half a season. That half a season was all that Liverpool could put up in defence against Barcelona, when they came for Philippe Coutinho. We were told that Liverpool would only sell when they wanted to sell, and that FSG would back Jurgen Klopp with what he wanted.
Well, we should assume that he didn’t want to sell Coutinho, because he was his best player by a distance. Liverpool have other exciting players, but none with Coutinho's skill. Despite that, FSG and Klopp will see him sold to Barcelona for what could be £140 million. A decent price, but one that shows that despite recent spending, the Premier League is still well behind La Liga.
It began with the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United to Real Madrid. He left what remains the most popular and richest league in the world, to go for a raise and the promise of glory elsewhere. It took a few years for him to be proven right, but he claimed two Champions League, and two Liga titles. There may be more to follow if Zinedine Zidane can put his side on track.
Others followed. Luka Modric left Spurs for Real. Luis Suarez decided he would prefer life in Barcelona to life in the north west of England. Gareth Bale turned down United to go to Spain from Spurs. From Germany Toni Kroos had the chance to go to Manchester United but went to Madrid instead.
The players who left from Spain, like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alvaro Morata and Angel Di Maria, came only because they were no longer wanted at the two big clubs in Spain. David de Gea would have left United if only there was someone on hand to properly work the transfer software at Old Trafford.
The Premier League earns the most money for all of its clubs, but Barcelona and Real Madrid are only challenged in the money leagues by United. Manchester City have their own peculiar funding from the start of Abu Dhabi, and United are hamstrung by the Glazer ownership.
City have relatively little tradition but plenty of excess money – United have the inverse. The surfeit will be claimed by their owners unless the top four finish is imperilled. Compare that to Barcelona and Real Madrid, where there are riches, trophies and sunny weather. It makes no sense for the best players to focus on anything except moving to Spain.
Coutinho didn’t play for City or United, so there was no promise of great wages or great success.
As talented as Klopp is, his club does not have the money to compete over wages, nor do they have the budget to compete for the Premier League. They have plenty of trophies from the past, and they will often finish in the Champions League places, but given the entrenched advantages of City, United and Chelsea, there is nowhere for them to go.
The Premier League is the richest in the world. It offers the best wages for those players just below the best. But Coutinho has shown that when the glamour of Spain approaches, Barcelona and Real Madrid can only be resisted for so long.
The Premier League might boast De Gea, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard and others, but it can’t be ignored that it is only because the Clasico teams have let them stay in England – for now.
Virgil van Dijk scores late derby winner on debut
FA Cup 3rd Round, Anfield - Liverpool 2 (Milner (P) 35', Van Dijk 84') Everton 1 (Sigurdsson 67')
Virgil van Dijk scored a dramatic late winner on his Liverpool debut to beat Everton 2-1 in the Merseyside derby.
Jurgen Klopp had to make do without Philippe Coutinho, who was again suffering from a transfer-window injury. In the first half, there were few clear cut chances until Mason Holgate conceded a soft foul on Adam Lallana in the box, and James Milner converted.
Tempers then spilled over as Roberto Firmino was shoved into the crowd by Holgate, but Bobby Madley let the incident pass without a yellow after Holgate appeared to be riled by Firmino.
In the second half, Liverpool had Everton on the back foot until Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised with a superb counter-attack from a Liverpool corner.
The game looked to be heading to a replay before Van Dijk headed into an empty net after Jordan Pickford missed the flight of the ball.
Was it a penalty? Lallana was definitely being held a little by Holgate, but it didn't seem enough to cause him to go to ground. This is a tough decision - the case for simulation is a strong one, but it is hard to deny that Holgate was holding an opponent in the box.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool): Van Dijk had only recently started training with Liverpool, but he looked their most assured defender. He was rarely tested, but his intervention at the other end might demonstrate that this is a player ready to lead a side that needs improvement, but has plenty of potential.
Liverpool: Karius 6, Gomez 6, Matip 6, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7, Milner 7, Can 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Lallana 6, Mane 6, Firmino 5. Subs: Wijnaldum 6, Solanke 6, Alexander-Arnold 6.
Everton: Pickford 6, Kenny 6, Martina 5, Holgate 6, Jagielka 6, Schneiderlin 6, McCarthy 5, Rooney 5, Bolasie 6, Sigurdsson 7, Calvert-Lewin 6. Subs: Niasse 6, Davies 6, Lookman 7.
34' - PENALTY! Lallana is fouled in the box as he touches a couple of volleys around Holgate, into the box, and is pulled by the defender.
35' - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Everton. Milner scores - A confidently taken penalty from Milner. Pickford dive left, Milner clilps it slightly to his right and his side are 1-0 up.
54' - GOMEZ HEADER - A corner is swung in to the back post, and Gomez has all the time in the world, but he heads it wide.
59' - PICKFORD SAVE - Robertson collects a loose ball from a cross on the left wing, and slams a rising shot at goal after jinking to the byline, and Pickford pushes it away from goal.
67' - GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Everton - Sigurdsson scores - Lookman is reeased down the inside left, he finds Jagielka who is somehow ahead of him. He picks out Sigurdsson, pelting towards the box, and from the edge of the box he fires in a shot past Karius.
84' - GOAL! Liverpool 2-1 Everton. Van Dijk scores - Jagielka concedes a corner on the left wing. Oxlade-Chamberlain swings it in, Van Dijk meets it before Pickford can after coming off his line, and it's in the empty net.
This is the first time a FA Cup tie at Anfield between the two sides ended in a victory for one of the teams.
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