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Philippe Coutinho joins Barcelona, so what next for Liverpool?

Philippe Coutinho's move to Barcelona is now complete and Liverpool must retain focus while marching on if they are to respond effectively.

Feature 07 Jan 2018, 10:02 IST
Liverpool v Swansea City - Premier League
Philippe Coutinho's proposed £142m move to La Liga giants Barcelona has been formally announced

It is indeed with a heavy heart that Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool bid farewell to Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian playmaker is set to be formally unveiled as a Barcelona player, after the deal to sign the 25-year-old was announced on their website on Saturday evening.

It ends a six-year stay on Merseyside, having joined from Serie A side Inter Milan in 2012. During his time in the top-flight, Coutinho developed into one of the Premier League and Europe's most gifted midfielders.

Understandably, it makes his loss particularly tough to bear for his team-mates and club supporters alike. Many have already expressed their disappointment over his departure, as well as fears that the Reds could potentially hit a brick wall without their magician.

It's fair to say though that Klopp's side are well-equipped to move on from their loss, keen to ensure that their targets for the remainder of this campaign are duly met.

So, what's next for the Reds?

Liverpool v Leicester City - Premier League
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp faces a tough task to replace Coutinho.

The typical reaction to selling one of your club's best players is to immediately visit the transfer market in search of an adequate replacements. Various football media outlets are already tipping players including Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez and AS Monaco's Thomas Lemar to be approached.

While acquiring either of the two would rightly fill the attacking void left by Coutinho, Klopp's biggest task probably lies in maintaining the confidence and belief among his players.

A current run of 17 matches unbeaten, the Reds sit fourth in the league standings and are only three points behind second-placed Manchester United. Having beaten local rivals Everton to get their FA Cup run underway, they still look forward to a UEFA Champions League last-16 tie against FC Porto next month.

Liverpool v Everton - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Liverpool v Everton - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round

Put simply, the Reds still have plenty going for them at present and allowing the departure of one key player - albeit their best - to ruin all of this is simply unacceptable.

Sure, Coutinho is the glue which brings them all together, the brain of an ever-improving Liverpool side. However, the squad does still possess quality without his presence and with a combined 47 goals in all competitions this term, the trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino will be geared up to display it.

The onus does not rest only on their shoulders, though. Liverpool have a full starting eleven who have netted at least one goal this term, so the remainder of the squad have to contribute in attack too - while Coutinho's potential replacement could arrive at some stage over the next month and provide additional end product.

In conclusion

Losing Luis Suarez in 2014 was a huge loss for Liverpool, as the Uruguayan was the sole contributor of goals and assists in a team that was otherwise deemed fairly average.

Coutinho's departure should not necessarily invoke such disappointment, as the Reds are much stronger than they were four years ago to deal with this.

Klopp has gradually built a solid side and of course, is no stranger to losing key players over the years. That experience during his time with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund will serve him well and there's no reason why he cannot be trusted to effectively replace him.

After their warm-weather training trip to Dubai, they have a huge test ahead against leaders Manchester City - who are unbeaten thus far this term. Without the Brazilian, Liverpool must march on.

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