Why Liverpool were right not to replace Coutinho in January

Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona from Liverpool transfer saga began in the last summer transfer window and it came to an end in the beginning of last month. The transfer of the Brazilian to the Catalan club was announced about a week after the Merseyside club struck a deal with Southampton for central defender Virgil van Dijk (another transfer saga that started last summer).

Liverpool is said to have received around £120 million for their star playmaker and as soon as the sale was done, rumours linking Liverpool to several other number 10s started flying around.

Among those names were Riyad Mahrez and Thomas Lemar (a player who was heavily linked with the Reds in the summer). However, as days went by it was made clear by the club that they won’t be signing a Coutinho replacement in January, leaving many of the Liverpool faithful disappointed.

To add to that dismay, Liverpool lost to a bottom placed Swansea in the Premier League and got knocked out of the FA Cup by West Bromwich Albion just five days later.

Frustrated Liverpool fans took to social media to express their discontent with their club not doing much in the transfer market despite the sale of Coutinho. The fact that other clubs were bringing in players left them more disappointed.

Even though Jurgen Klopp’s men bounced back with a 3-0 victory of Huddersfield, many still believe that not buying a Coutinho replacement will affect their chances of finishing in the top 4.

But, are Liverpool really wrong to not sign a new number 10?

With Liverpool already out of the domestic cups, all that is left for them is a top 4 race and the UEFA Champions League. Not many even think that Liverpool stand a slight chance to become the European champions.

With the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and even Manchester City, who can be considered to be up there under Pep Guardiola, in the race Liverpool are just mere underdogs.

Spending big on a player with the hope of increasing their Champions League seems impractical.

Then comes the race for the top 4. Klopp is a manager who always trusts his players and it is clear that he believes the current players in his squad is good enough to help finish Liverpool in the top 4.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been slowly stepping up his game and also the hardworking Adam Lallana is gradually returning to full fitness. This gives Klopp the opportunity to effectively rotate the midfield like he has been doing with the rest of the squad throughout the season.

Of course they will miss the magic of Coutinho, but the midfielders in the Liverpool squad can be considered to be perfect Klopp players.

Take each of them and we can see that they are hardworking and good pressers, just like the father of Heavy Metal Football wants. This is only going to enable him to develop a squad that plays to his system, that was successful at Borussia Dortmund and Mainz.

Now, imagine Liverpool have brought in Lemar or Mahrez like the fans wanted. Both the players will cost the player more than £65 million, which is not actually a problem for them as they just spend £75 million on van Dijk and also received a huge sum for the sale of Coutinho. But the problem is going to be on the player.

Coming into a team midway through the season with such a huge price tag on him and being expected to replace the best player in team seems to be too much to take for a player, no matter how big he is.

Liverpool realistically don’t have much to play for this season except a top 4 finish (which Klopp believes his current squad can achieve) and hence getting a star man was not a necessity for the team.

Instead, they could just wait till the next summer, get the players they want, give them the time to adapt in the pre-season and then let them kick things off next season.

Whether it is Lemar, Mahrez or anyone else, all of them stand a better chance of making an impact if they join next summer than in January.

So, Klopp and the club were right not to ‘panic’ buy in the winter transfer window and wait till the end of the season. However, the German manager should make sure that the team finishes in the top 4 so that he can convince his targets to join him at Anfield.

 

Written by Dakir Thanveer

Follow Dakir on Twitter @ZakWriter

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