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The grass isn’t always greener – especially when you leave Liverpool

You can’t always get what you want.

The Rolling Stones told everyone that.

And that motif very much applies to Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can.


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Once upon a time at Anfield

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Once upon a time at Anfield

The ex-Liverpool duo underestimated and disrespected the Jurgen Klopp project and, one way or another, forced moves away from Anfield.

Both cited winning trophies as their incentive with the Merseysiders’ dry spell, outside of the League Cup, standing at 12 years when they departed in 2018.

Both have indeed done that since joining Barcelona and Juventus respectively, but domestic titles are a foregone conclusion in their leagues.

Anguish for Philippe

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Anguish for Philippe

But Coutinho and Can have found out the hard way that the grass isn’t always greener.

Coutinho’s confidence was shot last season and, despite the backing of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, looked a shadow of his former Anfield self.

Barca moved to sign Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong this summer, two players who dominate in areas where Coutinho has failed to establish authority.

A move to Barcelona would see Philippe Coutinho move in Andres Iniesta's central position

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What was meant to be

Since his eye-watering £145m switch in January 2018 he has looked neither an inverted winger/forward nor a creative central midfielder.

Coutinho was meant to ease the pain of losing Andres Iniesta and Neymar within 12 months of each other.

Instead, before heading to Bayern Munich this summer, the 27-year-old was used as bait in a bid to tempt the latter back to the Nou Camp.

Can’s career might just be unwinding even more alarmingly.

Can was hot property in summer 2018

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Can was hot property in summer 2018

Juve are the kings of the ‘free’ transfer and played their party trick twice again this summer with the acquisitions of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot.

With Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi, Rodrigo Bentancur and Sami Khedira already there, midfield was becoming a crowded house.

So when Can found out via a brief phone call with Maurizio Sarri that he wasn’t named in Juve’s 22-man Champions League squad, s*** understandably hit the fan.

“They phoned me and told me, in a conversation that didn’t even last a minute, that I was not on the list and they didn’t give an explanation,” Can told Bild.

“That does make me angry and furious because I think that I played well last season, above all in the Champions League.”

Brutal.

His dream move quickly turned to despair

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His dream move quickly turned to despair

In the space of 12 months Can has gone from midfield linchpin to an uninvited party guest, forced to watch the most exhilarating competition in sport unfold from home.

The narrative is dripping in irony.

Can, after all, left Liverpool in the aftermath of their damaging final defeat to Real Madrid.

He will now sit out of the very same competition his former club are currently reigning champions of.

The irony

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The irony

Football works in mysterious ways but one thing is for certain; Liverpool are far superior without the duo.

Fabinho was brought into replace Can and, despite a shaky start to his Anfield career, is now one of the best midfield destroyers in Europe.

The Reds, of course, also used the Coutinho money to bring in Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, which has worked out pretty well.

The Coutinho money was put to good use

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The Coutinho money was put to good use

It’s been a masterclass in going head over heart, thinking logically rather than emotionally.

Coutinho was a hugely popular figure amongst the fans and some were pining for his return this summer.

But he proved more a luxury player than the prodigal son and Liverpool are a different animal 18 months on from his exit.

Coutinho fell out with the Barca fans

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Coutinho fell out with the Barca fans

Can also earned his bread after emerging as a pivotal figure in the final few months of the 16/17 season, culminating in that outrageous goal at Watford.

Yet again inconsistency and ego proved a toxic combination.

Do Coutinho and Can regret their actions? Only they will know.

But their struggles since leaving Liverpool only serve to reinforce Klopp’s magic touch.