Jurgen Klopp has invested heavily in Liverpool’s central midfield options and now has an array of options in the engine room, but he doesn’t possess anyone with the same creativity as Philippe Coutinho.
Against Red Star last night, Adam Lallana was charged with adding creativity to a largely functional and energetic Reds central midfield; but failed miserably.
The game against the Serbians was the exact type that Coutinho would have thrived in, either playing in that deep playmaker role or out wide.
That’s because he is capable of setting the tempo of a game as well as creating something from nothing with one of his trademark mazy dribbles or long-range shots; which is exactly what is required on a tricky evening against the hosts’ massed ranks of defence.
That’s not to say selling Coutinho was necessarily the wrong decision; the Brazilian wanted to carry out his dream move to Barcelona and Klopp has been able to bankroll a genuine title push with the proceeds of the sale.
But there’s a reason Liverpool wanted Nabil Fekir in the summer. They still lack someone who can create from deep, central areas.
The absence of Xherdan Shaqiri thrust that deficiency into sharper focus, and perhaps made some Reds long for the day Coutinho could pull a rabbit out of a hat to get Liverpool out of a hole.