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Georginio Wijnaldum explains why he'd have been happy if Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona

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Philippe Coutinho nearly broke Liverpool fans' hearts this summer when he handed in a transfer request and pushed for a move to Barcelona.

The Reds' star man has been an instrumental player for the club in the past few seasons and a stand-out performer in one of the Premier League's most menacing attacking trios.

It was hugely feared around Anfield that the attacking partnership of Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino would have been broken up this summer.

But, thanks to Liverpool's stubbornness, they managed to keep ahold of their Brazil international and the 25-year-old has returned to the side with two goals in his last two appearances.

A back injury had stopped the South American making his first appearance of the season until mid-September, but now appears to be ready for the huge task ahead on Merseyside.

A few concerning results, including a 5-0 hammering at Manchester City, has left the Reds eight points short of the league leaders going into Sunday afternoon's game at Newcastle.

Understandably, Georginio Wijnaldum's return to Tyneside will be all the better for having Coutinho, and the Dutchman has backed the want-away star man to make the difference on Sunday.

“He’s an important player who can win games for us and make the team better," Wijnaldum told the Liverpool Echo.

“It was normal that the club tried so hard to keep him."

Already, the Reds are chasing the leading pack, but a win on Sunday would pull them back into the top four. 

Wijnaldum: We'd have supported Coutinho decision

But although Wijnaldum is delighted to have Coutinho helping Liverpool's assault on the top four, he admits he and his teammates would have been happy for the Brazilian had he departed for the Camp Nou.

“On one side we would have been happy for him if he could have gone as he really wanted to make the move," Wijnaldum confessed. "But on the other side as team-mates you want him to stay because you know with Phil we’ll be better.

“There were two thoughts in your head. You can see it from both sides. Someone was going to be disappointed at the end of the transfer window and it was Phil.”

It's going to take something fantastic from Liverpool this season to win the Premier League with how their title rivals have recruited over the summer. And it's yet to be seen if Barcelona will return with a fresh offer in January after seeing a £138 million bid rejected.

Liverpool have already been knocked out of the Carabao Cup and while their Champions League hopes appear to be slim, the FA Cup appears to be their most genuine chance of glory this season.

Dutchman admits situation difficult for Coutinho

Meanwhile, Barcelona are in pole position in La Liga to reclaim the title from Real Madrid, currently seven points ahead of reigning champions Real Madrid.

And, in part, it's understandable to see why Wijnaldum is sympathetic of Coutinho's missed opportunity.

“It was difficult," the Dutchman admitted. “Phil is a really good person and we understood why he wanted to make the move.

“He’s someone who has always given everything for Liverpool. He has done a great job fighting for Liverpool.”

But Wijnaldum has no question marks over Coutinho's commitment to Liverpool, regardless of what the future may bring for the Brazilian.

“You never know what will happen in the future," the Liverpool midfielder added. "But Phil is a good person and no matter how long he’s here, I know he will always give everything for Liverpool. We’re so happy that he stayed.”

Topics:
Philippe Coutinho
Jordan Henderson
Adam Lallana
Roberto Firmino
Football

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