At Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp made a habit of never getting in the way when his best players wanted to leave the club.
Under his guidance, he watched Shinji Kagawa go to Manchester United, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich and Bundesliga Player of the Year Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid…
The latter failed in Spain and joined Liverpool on loan for a difficult stint in which he was criminally misused by Brendan Rodgers, who for some reason deployed the no.6 as a no.10.
Now, the Turk has been describing how Klopp let him go – telling Sahin it was his choice and that he would be his friend forever.
“After we won the Bundesliga in 2011, I got a text from my agent,” Sahin recalls while writing on The Players’ Tribune.
“Hey Nuri, Real Madrid wants you.”
“It’s kind of funny that it just happened like that. Through a text. It wasn’t like you imagine when you’re a kid.
“I had heard my name mentioned in transfer rumours before, but never with Real Madrid. And now, here they were. The white kits, the Bernabeu, the history. And I remembered the promise that I’d made to myself all those years ago.
“There was a part of me that wanted to say ‘no’. Dortmund had given me so much – how could I leave them? It was hard to think about. I lost sleep. I talked for hours with my wife and family.
“But I had to speak with Dortmund’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, before I could decide. I will remember our conversation forever.”
“Nuri, it is your choice,” he told me. “But if you leave, you must know, I will always be on your side. You are my friend forever.”
“If I stay,” I said, “I will think about life in Madrid. I will be in Dortmund physically, but mentally … I’ll be lost. I couldn’t live like that.” And I told him that I only had one life to live – that I didn’t want to regret any part of it.
“Jurgen understood, and he told me to follow my heart. A few hours later, I announced my decision.”
This is interesting as Klopp currently has a situation where his best player Coutinho wants to leave Liverpool, too.
The quotes from Sahin indicate our manager would happily allow him to join Barca, but this time around – it seems different.
Unlike Sahin, Coutinho hasn’t been entirely honest with the boss, saying he was happy back in June, before handing in a transfer request the day before the season began.
Liverpool have no time to find an adequate replacement, so we’d be surprised if Klopp went back on his word and sold the Brazilian now.
Next summer, he’s a gonner.