Piero Ausilio has revealed that selling Philippe Coutinho ranks among “my greatest regrets in over 20 years at Inter”.
Coutinho joined Inter from Vasco da Gama in 2010 but failed to make the breakthrough with the Nerazzurri and was sold to Liverpool in January 2013, where he has gone on to become one of European football’s most prized assets.
“It was a great regret for me to have to sell him -- perhaps one of my greatest regrets in over 20 years at Inter,” the sporting director told ESPN FC.
“I have splendid memories of Coutinho, both as a footballer and of the lad himself. When he got here, it struck us how outstanding he was immediately -- he was serious and wanted to work and you could see that he had all that was needed to go on and do what he has done so far.
“When he [Coutinho] came back, Inter had taken a new direction. We had changed Coach again -- and we were looking to find new continuity, and we had changed a few players.
“We had changed coach in June -- with Gian Piero Gasperini coming, and then he was changed after only three months [for Claudio Ranieri] -- so it was a difficult time for Inter, not just for Coutinho.
“After a year, he was not playing regularly, but we could see he had the talent. Maybe we just had some more talented players ahead of him in the pecking order at the time -- like Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder, Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio -- so he couldn’t get a regular game, and he needed this.
“To be honest, at that moment in time, Inter were already working on different transfers. We were already in early negotiations over new owners and in talks with potential new shareholders.
“It was a moment when we had a young Coach -- Andrea Stramaccioni -- and we had to sell to buy.
“We had this opportunity to sell a player who was not playing and then, with the proceeds from the transfer, we had the chance to buy players who were more suited to what the coach wanted.
“So the money we got was invested in buying [Mateo] Kovacic, who we then sold on for far more -- almost €40m to Real Madrid.
“We were already completing the signing of Mauro Icardi from Sampdoria, so the money from selling Coutinho actually enabled us to bring in Kovacic and went towards the signing of Icardi too.
“Coutinho’s career started here thanks to us. He was playing in a Brazil U-17 squad with the likes of Neymar and Lucas [Moura], so we did well to get such a talented player like him.
“Now we have very strong owners, although Financial Fair Play does still have an impact on our finances, but I cannot exclude in future that this lad could end his career back here at Inter -- it is something we can always hope for.”
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://www.premiersports.com/subscribenow