3 reasons Liverpool could thrive without Philippe Coutinho
Barcelona are still determined to sign the Brazil star
Despite turning down several huge offers from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho this summer, reports suggest Liverpool’s stance has changed and they could now be open to selling the playmaker in January.
The La Liga giants were determined to sign him as part of their efforts to replace Neymar. However, not even £138m was enough to tempt the Reds to part with the Brazil international.
Coutinho has developed into one of the best attacking midfielders around during his time at Anfield. He scored 13 goals and registered seven assists in the Premier League last season. The 25-year-old also scored a stunning free-kick in Saturday’s 3-2 win against Leicester City.
He was keen to join the La Liga giants and his representatives have reportedly made it clear that he wishes to move on, which has led to Liverpool considering a sale for the first time.
The ex-Inter ace has exceptional quality, but letting him leave wouldn’t necessarily be a disaster for Liverpool.
The Coral News Team have looked at three potential upsides to taking the money.
Strengthen the Squad
Transfer fees may have rocketed this summer but £138m ould still have gone a long way for Liverpool.
Rather than sign a direct replacement for Coutinho, they could spend the money on defensive reinforcements.
Their sparkling attack is often let down by poor defending at the other end of the pitch.
The Reds have conceded 11 league goals already this season. Only three sides in the top flight have let in more.
Dejan Lovren still looks unconvincing alongside Joel Matip in central defence. Third-choice centre-back Ragnar Klavan struggles against quality opposition. And Simon Mignolet is prone to mistakes in goal.
A few smart defensive purchases would improve Liverpool overall.
Jurgen Klopp isn’t wedded to the idea of having a playmaker in his side, even one as gifted as Coutinho.
Klopp believes his gegenpressing style can be more effective than relying on any individual to produce moments of inspiration.
Speaking in December 2016, he said: “No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation.”
He believes that winning the ball high up the pitch catches defences out of position and gives his own side a great chance to score.
For all of his talent, Coutinho isn’t a natural fit in a high-tempo, pressing system.
Mohamed Salah’s arrival this summer means Liverpool are less reliant on Sadio Mane’s pace in wide areas.
The attacking trio of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino gives the team real dynamism up front, which means Coutinho is now more suited to a deeper midfield role in Klopp’s 4-3-3.
Coutinho is still Liverpool’s best option to unlock defences that are happy to sit deep. However, it’s risky to select him there in tight games against top teams as he can be exposed defensively.
Additionally, a solid midfield base that can back up the pressing from the front is better suited to Liverpool’s game.
Klopp has plenty of midfield options that fit that mould. Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can all play there. And the imperious Naby Keita will arrive next year.
Coutinho would undoubtedly be missed if he does leave. But his departure could allow the manager to truly shape the team in his image.
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