Friday 22 March 2019

Aldo: We must move fast to Phil' the void

Former Ireland striker Aldridge 'disappointed' with Coutinho exit but says club must act now and sign up Leicester's Mahrez

Philippe Coutinho was presented as a Barcelona player at the Nou Camp yesterday, following his £142m move from Liverpool. Photo: Reuters
Philippe Coutinho was presented as a Barcelona player at the Nou Camp yesterday, following his £142m move from Liverpool. Photo: Reuters

Liverpool must move quickly to replace Philippe Coutinho, former Reds striker John Aldridge has warned.

Coutinho headed to Barcelona on Saturday night after Liverpool accepted a British record bid, worth up to £142million, from the Catalan club.

The 25-year-old Brazil international, who arrived at Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5million in January 2013, scored 54 times for the Anfield side.

"I am not surprised but disappointed he (Coutinho) is leaving because he is a fantastic player to watch," Aldridge said. "£140million is a lot of money and Liverpool have to spend it wisely.

"They have spent £75million of it wisely on Virgil van Dijk - a player we have needed for some time in a leader at the back - but he (Coutinho) needs replacing and we have got to do it ASAP."

Leicester's Riyad Mahrez - a key player for the Foxes when they won the Premier League back in 2016 - has been linked as a potential candidate to fill Coutinho's shoes.

And Aldridge, who scored 63 times for Liverpool, believes the Algeria international must be considered.

"If you look at the way Coutinho plays, he (Mahrez) is very similar," Aldridge added. "He is older, he has played in the Premier League for some years and everybody has seen the ability he has got, so he ticks a lot of boxes.


"You need that type of player similar to Coutinho who sees that pass, can do something extraordinary outside the box, can bend it in the top corner and is good on free-kicks as well."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stressed the club had done everything possible to persuade Coutinho to remain at Anfield, but revealed the player had been "desperate" to move to Barcelona since July.

Leicester midfielder Riyad Mahrez
Leicester midfielder Riyad Mahrez

"It is with great reluctance that we - as a team and club - prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho," Klopp said on Liverpool's website.

"It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known. Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.

"Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.

"I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of Liverpool was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100 per cent certain his future - and that of his family - belongs at Barcelona.

"Philippe has made a fantastic contribution to this club over his five years."

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