Losing Coutinho for £145m has barely been felt at Anfield now

When Liverpool begrudgingly sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January, Jurgen Klopp’s side could have gone one of two ways.

They could have crumbled for the second half of the season with the look of a team that had indeed lost £145million worth of footballer. Or they could have shown signs of life without him.

Liverpool did the latter and then some. Despite losing the creativity of Coutinho, the clinical nature of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane has taken them to the brink of a Champions League final.

We should not overlook the job that Klopp has done since the departure of the Brazilian.

It is almost four months since Coutinho appeared for the final time in a Liverpool shirt – in a straightforward 2-1 win over Leicester – but his absence has barely been felt at Anfield.

Liverpool did not replace Coutinho, despite them having a month to do so. Klopp trusted in the attackers he had at his disposal, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield.

Instead, they used £75m of the cash they received to sign Virgil van Dijk and their defensive statistics have improved since December. Such has been his influence, Dejan Lovren looks to have improved alongside Van Dijk and the Dutchman’s fee is barely brought up these days.

Liverpool are leaking less goals and in turn, winning more games. It was money well spent.

The win percentage of the men in red has risen from 53.3 per cent in the first half of the season to 66.7 in the second half. So while those at the back have been doing their bit, those at the front are continuing to fire on all cylinders.

Van Dijk gets an up-close look at Salah, Firmino and Mane in training and he told the Telegraph in an interview on Thursday: ‘You don’t need to give them a chance, because they are so lively, so sharp. No-one is selfish. Everyone wants to do it for each other.

‘The work they put in up front as well is phenomenal. It’s getting a bit under the radar – the work they do defensively.’

The pressing of Salah, Firmino and Mane is continuing to kill off opponents in the Premier League. The same went for Oxlade-Chamberlain before his incredibly-unfortunate injury and so too James Milner, who helped hound Roma into submission in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Liverpool’s goals-per-game ratio has dropped from 2.57 to 2.43 with and without Coutinho but their conversion rate is up from 14.1 per cent to 16.5. It means they are making their shots count more.

Though Klopp lost a world-class player in Coutinho – someone who could create something out of nothing – he refused to compromise the way he wants his team to play. The German stuck to his footballing principles and, with Salah as their talisman, Liverpool have looked petrifying in games.

It was easy to see why Barcelona wanted Coutinho. In his last three seasons with Liverpool, the 25-year-old got to double figures in goals and he was their chief creator.

In January, Barcelona were cruising to becoming La Liga champions but their goals-per-game ratio was at its worst since the 2013-14 season. Back then, they acquired Luis Suarez for £75m. This time, they spent almost twice that to spruce things up.

Coutinho is a supreme talent but the greatest compliment we can pay Klopp is that he sanctioned this sale yet avoided any crisis. This is no fluke.

As Klopp said previously: ‘Phil is a world-class player and we miss him, but thank God we do not see it on the pitch.’ They haven’t one bit.