Liverpool “haven’t missed” Philippe Coutinho since offloading him to Barcelona and the Brazil international now “wants” a return to the Reds “more than they need him”, says Neil Mellor.
A potential retracing of the South American’s steps to Merseyside has been mooted ahead of the transfer window. With Coutinho having struggled for form at Camp Nou and during a loan spell at Bayern Munich, he is expected to be on the move again when the market opens.
Many are expecting the 28-year-old to head back to England, with the Premier League having proved to be a happy hunting ground in the past. It does, however, remain to be seen whether Jurgen Klopp will be joining the chase for a familiar face.
Mellor can appreciate why the Reds may be setting their sights elsewhere, telling Gentingbet: “Liverpool haven’t missed Coutinho anywhere near as much as they expected to, which is a huge credit to the squad that was left behind.
“It says everything about where Liverpool are at that he’s willing to come back and would walk away from Barcelona, where he’s had a difficult time.
“It’s a credit to the group that he wants to come back and whilst he is an excellent player, he probably wants Liverpool more than they need him at the minute which says everything.”
Liverpool are said to be exploring a number of other recruitment options at present, with Jadon Sancho, Adama Traore and Kalidou Koulibaly among those to have generated the most speculation.
Former Reds striker Mellor added on the supposed targets: “It’s exciting to see Liverpool linked with them as they are all excellent players. Koulibaly is one of the best centre-backs in world football.
“I think the club has shown they will back Klopp – so if he really feels one of these players will improve the team and squad, I’d expect them to back him in the market this summer. You are talking big money for all of them but with [Virgil] van Dijk and Alisson, the club have proved they are willing to back the manager if he believes certain signings are critical.”
Pressed further on where Liverpool may look to strengthen, with Klopp’s side fast closing in on a first Premier League title triumph, Mellor said: “Liverpool’s starting 11 is incredibly strong, so you are probably looking more at supplementing the squad that truly dislodging a starter.
“Timo Werner was linked but he has now signed for Chelsea.
“Liverpool, with the exception of Van Dijk and Alisson, haven’t spent massively on transfer fees. If they are recruiting from a position as reigning Premier League champions that is really powerful.
“If I was to pinpoint one area, it might be to get a bit of back-up in the final third so they aren’t always relying on [Roberto] Firmino, [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane.”