Returning to Liverpool could help Raheem Sterling reach new heights.

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Returning to Liverpool could help Raheem Sterling reach new heights.

“If you stay here long enough, they’ll erect a statue in your honor.” You’ll be simply another player if you go somewhere else, like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, or Real Madrid. Here, you have the opportunity to be more.” This was Jurgen Klopp’s well-documented counsel to Philippe Coutinho when the Brazilian initially started flirting with Barcelona in May 2017, but it could apply to any former Liverpool player.

In the four years since the German spoke those words for the first time, his forecast has proven to be more accurate than he could have imagined.

Coutinho moved to Camp Nou for a club-record £142 million in January 2018, and while he has won trophy in Spain and on loan at Bayern Munich, he has fallen short of the expectations he set at Liverpool.

He’s simply another player now. And it wasn’t an especially valuable one.

Barcelona have struggled to sell the playmaker despite the Catalans’ financial devastation, with the Brazilian’s transfer a major contributory factor.

They cashed in on the likes of Emerson Royal, Ilaiz Moriba, Junior Firpo, and Jean-Clair Todibo in the summer, despite being unable to renew Lionel Messi’s contract due to La Liga salary limits, and sending Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic out on loan to get them off the wage bill.

Despite the La Liga giants’ best efforts, Coutinho, who only made his first appearance of 2021 following a knee injury last month, stayed at Camp Nou for the third summer in a row.

After being linked with Newcastle United in recent weeks following their takeover by a Saudi Arabian consortium, rumors in Spain stated he had been offered back to Liverpool in the summer as the Catalans look to recoup a third of their initial investment.

There was a time when Reds fans, and possibly Klopp himself, would have thrilled at the chance to re-sign Coutinho.

He had been Liverpool’s dynamic Brazilian match-winner for five seasons, and the prospect of lining up alongside compatriot Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane would have made him salivate.

But that is no longer the case.

“Summary comes to a close.”

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