'Liverpool need a player like Coutinho to unlock defences' - Reds urged to find Brazilian's successor

Goal.com

Liverpool are unlikely to re-sign Philippe Coutinho in the future, but they do need to bring in a player with similar qualities to help break down sides content to sit back and absorb pressure, according to Phil Thompson.

Coutinho became a cult hero at Anfield between 2013 and 2018, emerging as one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in Europe with his superb technical ability, passing range and penchant for the spectacular.

The Brazil international ended up catching the eye of Spanish champions Barcelona, who lured the playmaker to Camp Nou in a £142 million ($175m) deal midway through the 2017-18 campaign.

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Since then, Liverpool have evolved into European champions and genuine Premier League title contenders, with Jurgen Klopp opting for efficiency over creativity across the middle of the park.

The Reds have relied heavily upon the talents of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the final third, with the likes of Georgino Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and James Milner providing the all-important link between defence and attack.

Liverpool built on last year's Champions League success by storming clear at the top of the Premier League this season, and now find themselves just two wins away from a first top-flight crown in 30 years.

Klopp's men did, however, come up short in their defence of the European Cup, crashing out at the last-16 stage against Diego Simeone's well-organised Atletico Madrid outfit 4-2 on aggregate.

Thompson cannot see Coutinho returning to Anfield anytime soon, with the 27-year-old currently taking in a loan spell at Bayern Munich, but he has urged Liverpool to sign a worthy successor in order to reach new levels of excellence.

"I don't think the Philippe Coutinho one would ever come off again, to get him back, but it's that sort of player that we actually need to unlock packed defences," the ex-Reds defender told Sky Sports.

Thompson also expressed his belief that Klopp could do with adding extra firepower to his ranks, before suggesting the German coach needs an extra defender to provide cover for first-choice left-back Andrew Robertson.

The Liverpool legend added: "I still think we need another striker and maybe a little bit more back-up for Andy Robertson. We're not too bad at centre-back, and I would like to think we are well blessed in midfield."

The Reds' charge towards Premier League glory has been halted by the coronavirus outbreak, with all top-flight and EFL fixtures postponed until April 3 and April 4 respectively following an emergency meeting on Friday.

It has been suggested the entire season could end up being voided, with another Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish calling for the title to be handed to his old club if such a scenario arises.

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