With Philippe Coutinho’s Barcelona future looking increasingly uncertain, speculation is understandably rife about a potential Liverpool reunion for the Brazilian.
The player’s agent recently spoke of the ‘special place in his heart’ that Liverpool has for Coutinho and how this would make it ‘very difficult’ for him to join another English club. The Reds have even been installed as second favourites behind PSG to land Coutinho this summer, but the prospect of a potential Anfield return for the man dubbed “O Magico” by the Kop has not been met with universal approval among supporters.
This week TLW caught up with Jamie Carragher for an interview to be published in a special one off comeback issue of the fanzine. Most of the interview focussed on the Reds bringing home ‘number six’, but we also took the opportunity to get Carragher’s view on whether the Reds would be wise to make a move for his former team-mate, Coutinho.
The following is an extract from our chat with Carra, which you can read in full in the fanzine, which will be published in a week or so but is available for pre-order now.
TLW: There’s very little between us and Man City but you made the point recently that if there’s one area where they have the edge it’s in that creative midfield position. They’ve got Kevin De Bruyne and the two Silvas but we don’t really have anyone like that; a 'magician' if you like. So what are your thoughts on bringing Coutinho back?
JC: I’d love to bring him back. I don’t really understand why some people are split on it. I can’t really get my head around why. “Oh he wanted to leave us”. So what? If you’ve got a lad from Brazil and Barcelona want to sign him, he’s gonna want to go. It’s reality. It’s life. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.
People say “yeah but he went in and told Klopp he didn’t want to play and he wanted to leave” but that’s just football, you’ve got to accept it. When we sign someone every season that means they wanted to leave their club! And it wasn’t like Coutinho went for £15million because he had a year to go and we got done on the transfer fee. We made unbelievable money.
Look, I’d only bring him back if we got a good deal. It wouldn’t be a case of spending £100million on him, but if it was on loan or we get him for £70m then yeah. Also, he wouldn’t be coming back as the star of the team so it’s not a case of Klopp feeling as though he’s got to play him every game. He can play midfield and he can play in the front three. He could even play Firmino’s role if you wanted to rest him.
I think Fabinho is special and could be the best in the league in that position, but I just think the midfield… (pauses)…. you look at the keeper and he’s top class. The defence is top class. The front three are top class. The midfield is very good.
It’s the balance more than the actual players themselves. The midfield never looks like scoring a goal. You don’t have anyone scoring from outside the box, or who can take a free-kick, play a little clever pass. Just the little creative things. If you added a Coutinho you get that and you’re bringing in a player who knows all the lads so there’s no settling in period. He knows the Premier League and he knows the club. It just ticks a load of boxes for me.
TLW: As you mentioned, some fans won’t want him because of the “back injury” and how he didn’t want to play when the window was open, but would his former team-mates think like that? If you were in that dressing room how would you feel about it? Actually, you had a similar situation with Mascherano when he supposedly wouldn’t play against Man City, so let’s use that as a hypothetical. If things hadn’t worked out at Barca and there was a chance to bring Mascherano back after a year, how would the likes of you and Stevie have felt about it?
JC: Oh you’d bring him back. The only one I was not really happy with was Torres because I thought he chucked it a little bit before he went. I don’t think anyone else did. The Mascherano situation was a one off game but when he did play he always gave everything. I actually thought Coutinho’s best football for Liverpool was the four months before he left.
When people were talking before that about whether he could play for Barca or Real Madrid, I thought; he’s a top player for us but is he that level? And then the Barcelona thing kicked off and I’m thinking “fucking hell”. But then from the start of the season until Christmas it was the best he’d ever played for us.
So fair play, he’s played really well and we’ve got a load of dough for him. My only problem was you don’t sell your best player in the middle of the season. Just organise it for the end of the season. If he’d have stayed, you think about what could have happened.
I go back to that final against Madrid and we lost it in midfield. We just didn’t have enough in there, and if I’m being honest, if we’d have played a better team than Tottenham this year it might have been a problem. To be fair we weren’t our normal selves and we usually play better than that, but I’d just like to see someone in there who can put their foot on the ball and show that bit of class.
This is just a small part of an extensive chat we had with Carra in which he spoke about his delight for Henderson, his concern about Trent and which current player he'd have loved to have had in the teams he played in. You can read it all in the fanzine, so order your copy now while stocks last.