Liverpool's patience rewarded as Coutinho sale allows them to transform midfield

Jurgen Klopp was in a fairly niche camp amongst Liverpool FC stakeholders, ending the January transfer window content with no purchase of a direct replacement for Philippe Coutinho.

The Reds had held on to their Brazilian wizard for six extra months after Barcelona's interest ramped up following Neymar's summer sale, Coutinho helping Klopp's men into the Champions League knockouts before departing with a £142 million price-tag on his head.

Selling in January made little sense to fans of either team, Liverpool had much to play for whilst Barcelona were already looking good in La Liga, full in the knowledge they'd be unable to play cup-tied Coutinho in Europe. However, Klopp acknowledged that the time had come for Liverpool and Coutinho to part ways.

Klopp opted not to twist

Fans cried for immediate gratification of their transfer wishes post-sale, such is the nature of modern football, but Klopp remained patient.

Eyebrows were raised as he opted to stick with the likes of James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum for the Champions League knockout's and league run in. There were half-hearted efforts to bring Naby Keita in early, Liverpool in no mood to pay the eight-figure bonus being demanded by RB Leipzig.

Liverpool fans were made to wait, the current midfield securing a top four finish and taking them to the Champions League final.

Despite that, Real Madrid's dominance in the middle third in Kiev made it so clear as to why - despite the impressive efforts of Jordan Henderson and co - upgrades were needed.

A midfield transformed at no cost

The Kop's patience is now being rewarded.

Keita's arrival had been known of since last summer, Liverpool smartly paying a slight premium over a release clause that would kick in this summer to prevent the likes of Bayern Munich beating them to the punch after one more season in Leipzig.

There were many fans that never expected Keita to line up alongside Coutinho. They'd be proved right, but few would have expected Liverpool to spend the money so wisely.

The deal for Fabinho was a real cloak-and-dagger operation, done in the shadows with no media knowledge from outside, the story going from rumour to announcement in less than a few hours.

Coming in from AS Monaco, the Brazilian will face the pressure of becoming Liverpool's first world class defensive midfielder since Javier Mascherano a decade ago, a task that will surely be made easier by the quality that's being assembled ahead of him.

As if the prospect of a Fabinho-Keita midfield pairing wasn't enough to get the tongues wagging, Liverpool look set to complete a midfield transformation with this week's expected addition of French international Nabil Fekir.

The Lyon captain's pending arrival only adds quality to Liverpool's electric attack, goals will be high on the agenda should he line up behind the infamous trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Fekir can play in the front three too, offering Liverpool an option to occasionally use Keita as their most advanced midfielder, or even switch up formations with skipper Jordan Henderson slotting in alongside Fabinho.

Options elsewhere, more to come

There will be chances too for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, side-lined through injury but certainly not forgotten after a promising first season on Merseyside.

However, the focus at the moment is well and truly on the arrival of the three new midfield stars, all world class in their own right - all bought for a combined amount that barely bypasses the sum Liverpool received for Coutinho.

Sporting Director Michael Edwards has been slated by critics in the past for sitting in a dark, air conditioned room and doing very little good.

He's now firmly out in the fresh air, as he spent his week negotiating in Paris to get the Fekir deal over the line.

There'll be more for him to do this summer, with the Reds having plenty of cash left in the pot. Given the Coutinho sale, they've barely started spending yet.

Fans crave a goalkeeper and centre-back, whilst back-up options for the front three are sure to be looked at.

Should that business be conducted in the same way as that for Fekir, Fabinho and Keita, Liverpool fans shouldn't be worried about not seeing their patience rewarded.