Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho thinks Liverpool would have been happy to sell Coutinho for £101m had the Neymar sale not changed the transfer market stratosphere.
Last summer, Paul Pogba became the world’s most expensive ever footballer at £89m, but Neymar’s £200m sale to PSG from Barcelona more than doubled the record.
As a result, transfer fees all over Europe hiked dramatically, with average players going for between £30m and £40m in some cases.
United got their business done early, which in fairness, was a smart move – as it meant the fees were not affected by the Neymar deal.
“I think we were very clever,” Mourinho told the Times. “We thought that something could happen that could change the market forever.
“Normally the last part of the market is less expensive, but this season, after Neymar [left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record £199million deal], everything changed — and changed for the worse in terms of prices.
“I think Lukaku on August 31 would have been £150million. Matic would have been £60million or £70 million. Neymar changed everything. If the biggest transfer in history had still been Pogba, I think Philippe Coutinho [the Liverpool playmaker] would now be in Barcelona at £101million.
“People look to the £200million figure now. Now the players of £20million became £40million, the players of £40million became £60million and everything changed.
“Lukaku and Matic, now, would have cost us £200million in total. But because we did it in the first part of the summer, it was much less.
“I think we did well in financial terms and well in preparation terms, getting them before the season started. That is not crucial but it is important.”
We disagree with Mourinho on his Coutinho point, though. FSG decided at the beginning of the summer that no price would convince us to part with our Brazilian, and that’s exactly what happened.
Having promised fans the 25-year-old was going nowhere, there was no way the owners could go against their word, no matter how badly Coutinho wanted to leave.
He’ll be back in England now and will hopefully deliver some kind of apology to supporters before Jurgen Klopp picks him in the side again.