Liverpool v Roma: How Reds have adapted since selling Philippe Coutinho

تم نشره في Tue 24 April / Apr 2018. 12:00 AM
  • Coutinho, shown here bending home a shot from long range against Hull in September 2016, scored 19 Premier League goals from outside the box between his Liverpool debut in 2013 and his final league appearance

When Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp sanctioned the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January, many Reds fans feared the worst.

At the time he went to Spain, Coutinho had made more Premier League chances and assists than any other Liverpool player and, in open play or from set-pieces, did more than anyone else to make the team tick.

Allowing their playmaker to leave midway through the season not only threatened to derail Liverpool's promising campaign, but by taking the cash they arguably signalled a distinct lack of ambition too.

But three months on, as a free-scoring Reds side prepare to take on Roma in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday (19:45 BST kick-off), it does not seem like they are missing the £142m man very much after all.

"You cannot say they are better without him, because we do not know where they would be in the Premier League if he had stayed - but they have definitely adapted," says former Liverpool full-back Stephen Warnock.

"There is more emphasis on the front three to create more for themselves now, because they haven't got Coutinho behind them to create for them.

"And there is a better balance to the team too. Everyone is talking about the difference [£75m defender] Virgil van Dijk has made - and he has been immense at the back - but having another midfielder who is more defensive-minded than Coutinho has definitely helped as well.

"Liverpool have been improving as the season has gone on anyway, and there are several reasons for that, but it will have taken people by surprise that they have kicked on the way they have since selling Coutinho.

"They obviously believed they could deal with him leaving - and they have."

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