Why keeping Philippe Coutinho was the worst decision Liverpool made this past summer
Liverpool and Klopp made it clear Coutinho would not be sold, but was that a good decision?
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to keep Phillipe Coutinho this summer has had disastrous effects on his team, and could potentially see him lose his job by the end of this season. At one stage, keeping the Brazilian looked like it had been a masterstroke by the German boss. Liverpool were firing on all cylinders and despite their defensive weaknesses, they were controlling all the ball and toying with their opponents.
Arsenal visited Anfield and were blown away by Liverpool’s firepower. Even without Coutinho playing their attacking power was fantastic, the fans could only imagine how much better it would be with him in the team too. They were already being considered as title contenders.
However, after humiliating the Gunners, their season began to nosedive. They were on the receiving end of devastating defeats away to Manchester City and Tottenham, only highlighting their defensive woes. And, even with all their attacking prowess, they have repeated the same poor results against smaller sides like last season, with draws against Burnley, Newcastle and Watford as they struggled to break them down.
Now, the Arsenal team they were laughing at are three points clear of them, and Manchester City are a huge 12 points clear of the Reds. They’re almost out of the title race already, just 10 games into the new season.
There is only one reason why Liverpool aren’t doing better and that is because of Klopp;s refusal to sell Coutinho and his decision neglect the defensive issues that have been clear ever since he set foot on Merseyside. Virgil Van Dijk was evidently the player Klopp so desperately wanted. But, given Southampton’s position on the player and the fact that they most definitely didn’t want to sell to Liverpool after they attempted to ‘tap-up’ the player, it was ludicrous not to buy a different centre-back all summer.
With there being no World Cup, no European Championships, it was the perfect time to buy a new defender, embed them into the side and give them a full pre-season. Yet Klopp decided there were ‘no better defenders out there’ than what he had. A simply ridiculous statement given a number of goals his team concede.
Coutinho is a wonderful player, but funds in excess of £100 million would have been received had they sold him. A maximum of £50 million could have been spent on a centre-back to partner Joel Matip and there would have been plenty of money to spend to replace Coutinho and strengthen other areas.
Kostas Manolas, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kalidou Koulibaly could have all been tempted by Klopp had they sold Coutinho and subsequently receive the funds to purchase a world class defender. Some players may not have wanted the move to Liverpool, but a defender better than both Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan was certainly attainable this summer.
Some may argue that keeping Coutinho was a good decision, which is partly true, the Brazilian has been magnificent since the start of last season and has shown consistency under Klopp that has been missing since he started playing for Liverpool.
The midfielder would always score some important goals, but his all-round statistics were always poor and he often didn’t do enough to set up his team-mates. He seems to have improved that now, which is probably the reason Barcelona were desperate to sign the Brazilian.
However, if they had sold him, a striker and a centre-back could have been purchased and Firmino could have dropped back into the number 10 position which Coutinho currently allocates. With the changes, Liverpool would be just as creative as they are now, if not better with an out and out goal scorer playing rather than Firmino as a first choice striker. Additionally, Adam Lallana could comfortably fill the void in the attacking midfield position, with it being a position he has thrived in since joining the Reds.
Although keeping Coutinho will make the Reds a better attacking side, the art of defending should be more important to a Liverpool side who keep leaking goals. Lovren has been awful ever since his arrival at the club and has arguably gotten worse. Klavan has barely played and like Lovren, looked very poor in mostly every game since joining the club.
The jury is still out on Matip, with his performances being slightly inconsistent and Joe Gomez still has plenty of learning to do. Liverpool are a Champions League team, they can’t afford to have mediocrity in defence. Teams like Barcelona, Juventus, Real Madrid and PSG will do the same or worse than what City did to them at the Etihad.
In summary, Klopp’s decision to stand by his current defenders and keep Coutinho will be one he will live to regret all season.