Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to play better without key star
The Liverpool manager admits his team need to improve when Philippe Coutinho is absent next season
Jurgen Klopp has challenged his Liverpool squad to perform better in the absence of their talisman Philippe Coutinho next season.
The Brazil international was a key member of the Liverpool side as the Reds secured a return to the Champions League in Klopp’s first full season in charge at Anfield.
Coutinho finished with a return of 13 goals and seven assists to help the Reds to finish in fourth spot ahead of FA Cup winners Arsenal on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign.
The South American missed a large portion of the season after the number 10 picked up a serious ankle injury in November, which coincided with Liverpool’s dwindling title challenge.
Liverpool are facing a battle to keep Coutinho after reports suggested Barcelona have tested the Merseyside club’s resolve with a £72m offer for the Brazil star.
Speaking to the media during Liverpool’s pre-season tour of Asia about how the Reds need to maintain their performance level when Coutinho isn’t available, Klopp said:
“Phil is a very, very important player but we need to react better when he’s not on the pitch.
“There were a few games when he was out and when he came back and he was not in the best shape and he tried to get back his rhythm.
“Phil, when he’s able to run properly then you want to have him on the pitch again. We have to be better in moments like this.
“Phil can improve, he has inconsistency, but there’s no doubting his qualities.”
Coutinho moved to Liverpool in an £8.5m deal from Serie A giants Inter Milan in 2013 under Klopp’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers.