Liverpool legend John Aldridge on Sunday urged the club to move quickly to replace playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who has swapped the Premier League giants for Barcelona.
The 25-year-old Brazil international headed to Spain on Saturday after Liverpool accepted a British record bid of 160 million euros ($192 million) from the Catalan club — the third biggest deal in football history.
“I am not surprised but disappointed he (Coutinho) is leaving because he is a fantastic player to watch,” Aldridge told BBC Radio 5 Live. “£140 million is a lot of money and Liverpool have to spend it wisely.
“They have spent £75 million 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” as soon as possible.
Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, a key player for the Foxes when they won the Premier League in 2016, has been linked to the club.
And Aldridge 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.”
Rio-born Coutinho arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan for £8.5 million ($11.5 million, 9.5 million euros) in January 2013 and scored 54 goals for the club in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay.
Barcelona had tried to sign him in the summer — his departure is a blow to Liverpool as the playmaker has just returned to top form after an injury-hit start to the season.
Capturing Coutinho allows Barcelona to move on from the bitter experience of losing his Brazil teammate Neymar last summer to Paris Saint-Germain.
Coutinho is expected to watch his new team host Levante on Sunday at Camp Nou.