It was a jaw-dropping deal that rocked football and left Liverpool’s money-men salivating.
Philippe Coutinho’s January departure left Liverpool shorn of one of the planet’s finest creative midfielders and swelled the coffers to the tune of £142million, making the Brazilian the third most expensive player of all time in the process.
Only Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have brought in more money for a selling club and while Reds fans were understandably upset about Coutinho’s exit, the astronomical fee perhaps enabled Liverpool to strike a world-record deal for £75million defender Virgil van Dijk.
Beyond January, the sum Barcelona paid might have even helped the Reds move for the likes of Fabinho, Alisson Becker and Xherdan Shaqiri, whose respective transfers cost the club close to £120m.
All three are more than playing their part in Liverpool’s very real Premier League title challenge, while £52m Naby Keita was also added to the squad nearly 12 months after agreeing the move with RB Leipzig.
On the face of it, Liverpool’s agreement with Barcelona was a superb one for the five-time European champions.
The Reds have been accused of lacking the creativity, guile and craft in the final third this term, but Liverpool certainly didn’t miss the bewitching Brazilian as they charged towards a Champions League final place in the second half of last season.
Undoubtedly, Liverpool could have benefited from the talents of Coutinho inside the NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kiev on May 26, but the fee received for a player who had handed in a transfer request and clearly wanted to leave was more than acceptable.
It enabled Liverpool to re-build in his absence and beef up a squad that is now expected to provide the sternest competition to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City juggernaut.
And if fans thought their club had struck an impressive deal before, Wednesday’s revelations have laid bare the remarkable job sporting director Michael Edwards did in negotiating with the La Liga giants.
Barca will be forced to pay an additional €100million (£89 million) premium for any Reds player they wish to buy before 2020 under the terms of Coutinho’s departure.
The ECHO understands Barcelona officials were not happy with the clause but an insistent Edwards drove the hardest bargain as Liverpool prepared for life after their mercurial No.10.
Anfield officials, who had perhaps grown weary of seeing Spain’s big two cherry-pick their stars, enforced a deal that keeps the Reds’ best out of the clutches of Barcelona for at least two years.
You can see how Liverpool fans have reacted to the deal HERE
In a decade that has seen Liverpool lose the likes of Xabi Alonso, Luis Suarez, Javier Mascherano and Coutinho – as well Steve McManaman and Michael Owen in the early 2000s – to Barcelona and Real Madrid, striking a deal that effectively takes Barca out of the running is a huge boost for the club.
Liverpool, for the time being, at least, no longer have to be concerned about Barcelona making advances on players such as Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk or Roberto Firmino – to name just three.
At a time when Jurgen Klopp’s side are threatening to genuinely re-emerge as a giant on the domestic and European stage, the knowledge that Barcelona are castrated will be invaluable to everyone at the club.
The Reds have expertly nullified Barcelona’s considerable lure for now, leaving only Real Madrid as the only real apex predators to avoid.
Which is why selling Coutinho must surely go down as one of the best pieces of transfer business in the club’s history.